SYSTEM TO AID A DRIVER TO
DETERMINE WHETHER TO CHANGE
FIELD OF THE INVENTION 5
This invention relates to vision systems for vehicles, and more particularly relates to vehicular vision systems which provide the vehicle operator with information to utilize when making a determination as to whether to change lanes while driving.
A major cause of driving accidents is a driver's inability to recognize that another vehicle is proximate the driver's 15 vehicle, such as in the driver's blind spot, and that it is therefore unsafe to change lanes. This may be attributable to voids in coverage (i.e., blind spots) provided by mirrors that is are positioned on the driver's vehicle, and to visual interference caused by objects that are positioned in the 2o driver's line of vision.
Prior to changing lanes, a driver traditionally checks his mirrors and blind spots. This includes the driver turning his head and/or shifting his eyes from the forward direction of travel of the vehicle. This is performed to determine whether 25 another vehicle is proximate his vehicle. In order for the driver to safely change lanes, the driver must determine not only if a vehicle is proximate his vehicle, but the size of the vehicle and its proximity to the driver's vehicle. This can only be accomplished if the driver observes areas that are to 30 the side and rear of his vehicle for a period of time. By observing these areas, the driver is reducing the chance of getting into an accident with a vehicle that is next to and/or behind the driver's vehicle when changing lanes. However, since the driver is not continually observing the roadway 35 that is in front of his vehicle, the likelihood of the driver's vehicle being involved in a frontal collision increases.
It would therefore be beneficial to have a vehicular vision system which provides a view of areas proximate the driver's vehicle, which identifies the type of vehicles proxi- 40 mate the driver's vehicle, and which identifies the distance of each vehicle from the driver's vehicle without having the driver turn his head from the forward direction of travel.
OBJECTS OF THE SUMMARY OF THE 45
It is an object of the present invention to provide a system which enables a driver to view regions to the side and rear of the driver's vehicle without having the driver turn his head from the forward direction of travel. 50
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system which enables a driver to identify types of vehicles located in regions proximate the driver's vehicle without having the driver turn his head from the forward direction of 5J travel.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a system which enables a driver to determine a spacing (distance) of vehicles proximate the driver's vehicle without having the driver turn his head from the forward direction of g0 travel.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a vehicular vision system which overcomes inherent disadvantages of known vehicle vision systems.
In accordance with one form of the present invention, a 65 vehicular vision system to aid a driver of a vehicle in determining whether it is safe to change lanes includes at
least one camera having a field of view which is positioned on the vehicle such that the field of view of the camera corresponds to at least a portion of an area proximate the vehicle, a distance determiner electrically coupled to the at least one camera which determines a distance of an object from the vehicle, and a display electrically coupled to the camera which displays an image generated by the camera and provides an indication of the distance of the object from the vehicle to the driver.
A preferred form of the vehicular vision system to aid a driver of a vehicle in determining whether it is safe to change lanes, as well as other embodiments, objects, features and advantages of this invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments thereof, which is to be read in connection with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the vehicular vision system according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the positioning of cameras on a vehicle having the vehicular vision system according to the present invention; and
FIG. 3 is a front elevation of a display according to the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
Referring now to the drawings, and initially to FIG. 1, the vehicular vision system 10 which aids a driver in determining whether to change lanes preferably includes first and second side image cameras 12, 14, a rear image camera 16, a distance determiner 18, and an object identifier 20. The output port of each of the first and second side image cameras, and rear image camera is electrically coupled to an image processor 22. Electrically coupled to the output port of the image processor is a display 24, the distance determiner 18 and the object identifier 20. The image processor preferably receives image signals from each of the cameras 12, 14, 16 and synthesizes a composite image output signal for viewing on the display 24. The image processor provides its output signal to the distance determiner and object identifier. The distance determiner determines distances of objects from the vehicle that are observed by the cameras, and the object identifier identifies the type of object observed by the cameras. The output signals of, the distance determiner 18 and object identifier 20 are provided to the display 24 for viewing along with the composite image generated by the cameras and image processor.
Referring now to FIG. 2, the vehicular vision system 10 is employed in a vehicle 1, such as an automobile, truck, light-truck, sport utility, van, bus, or motorcycle for providing a driver of the vehicle with a composite side and rearward view from the vehicle by looking at only one display. The display is preferably positioned proximate the driver's forward field of view as explained below. The first and second side image cameras 12,14 are preferably placed on a portion of the vehicle (e.g., a passenger side and driver side front portions of the vehicle, respectively) such that a rearward and sideward field of view 12', 14' is obtained for both sides of the vehicle as shown in FIG. 2. In the preferred embodiment, the first and second side image cameras 12,14 cover an area bounded by corresponding sides 26, 28 of the vehicle 1 and which extends outwardly at an angle e defined by the field of view of each camera. While the cameras 12 and 14 are shown as having the same angle 9 in FIG. 2, it is foreseen that the cameras may have different fields of view.