Scientists have developed a new microstructured material that reflects light in rainbow rings: computer vision reads road signs with such a surface better.
Autonomous vehicles do not always operate in 100% visibility conditions, so it is important to be guaranteed to recognize, for example, road signs. The new microstructured material reflects light in rainbow rings, making it easier to read road signs.
Traffic sign recognition systems are found not only in electric vehicles, but also in driver assistance systems. Typically, this technology is based on recognizing the colors or shapes of signs, but readability can be affected by lighting, weather, obstacles, or even a sticker on the sign.
Therefore, the authors of the work investigated a coating material that can facilitate the operation of such systems. It is a new form of reflective material that is already being used for illuminating signs and road markings: it reflects light from a car’s headlights directly onto the driver. But instead of focusing this light, the new material scatters it, creating beautiful rainbow patterns.
The new material has been called the microscale concave interface: it consists of a thin film of tiny polymer spheres embedded in a ribbon. When light hits a surface, these microspheres reflect it.