Alaina Gassler, a 14-year-old from West Grove, Pennsylvania invented a solution to eliminate front blind spots of cars caused by the windshield A-pillars. The pillars support the windshield and provide protection during accidents, but also make areas of the road unviewable.
“There are so many car accidents and injuries and deaths that could’ve been prevented from a pillar not being there,” Gassler said in video by Society for Science & the Public. “And since we can’t take it off cars, I decided to get rid of it without getting rid of it.”
Her design consists of a webcam, a projector, 3D printed adapter and retroreflective fabric. By setting up a camera on the outside of the A-pillar, an image is sent to the projector mounted on the car’s interior roof and then projected onto the pillar. What was once blocked to the driver is shown in real-time to the driver. The retroreflective fabric covering the A-pillar reflects the image rather than bouncing it in various directions.
The invention landed Gassler the top award in Broadcom MASTERS, a science and engineering competition for middle school students. She won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize.
Gassler became aware of the blind spot issue when her mom commented on how she didn’t like driving the family Jeep Grand Cherokee because its A-pillars caused blind spots. When Gassler’s brother began driving, she became motivated to invent a device on her own to solve the problem.
“When I did research, I found out that there are more than 840,000 blind spot-related car accidents per year just in the US, which made this project significantly more important to me,” she told CNN.
Gassler hopes to keep on pursuing the project, with the goal of eventually getting a patent and pitching it to big car companies like Tesla.
Watch Gassler’s demo video below: