New driver visibility technology in the Cadillac ATS
Engineers worked to identify the vehicle attributes needed to maximize ATS’s driving character by making the most of sight lines. New visibility metrics developed from customer clinics in the United States and Germany consider exterior mirror and A-pillar area size, seat height, forward vision distance, side vision distance, and intrusive objects in windows such as rear headrests and the interior rearview mirror.
As with many cars today, ATS’s driver visibility is significantly influenced by design criteria, including aerodynamics, styling, structural stiffness, safety and vehicle packaging. The steeply raked windshields and A-pillars common today help make the most of aerodynamics for improved fuel economy, and higher hoods help provide pedestrian protection. Together, these measures can present visibility challenges.
Likewise, thicker roof pillars needed to accommodate air bags, lower roof heights required to decrease frontal area for improved aerodynamics, and higher decklids designed to accommodate customer cargo needs also pose visibility challenges.
© General Motors
A new visibility evaluation technique – known internally as “the Hedgehog” for its prickly appearance on computer screens – helps characterize the three-dimensional aspect of A-pillar sightlines. Designers can quickly study how changes in windshield angle or section size affect the driver’s ability to see targeted areas derived from careful evaluation of performance driving scenarios, such as the roads and tracks of the company’s Milford Proving Ground.
These findings were validated and used to create a Driver Visibility Calculator.