As headlight technology has advanced, so has our ability to see greater distances ahead into the dark of night. However, even the best LED lights, like Porsche's matrix headlights found on the new Panamera, illuminate the night only so far (200 meters in this case). But at highway speeds, and above, 200 meters is traveled in mere seconds (6-seconds at 75 MPH). What if an animal, or worse yet a person or child, were to dart out in-front of you? Would you have the time to react? We'd all like to think so, but maybe we're driving distracted or just simply tired. Porsche's new Night Vision Assist aim to put an "End to Night" and up your odds for a safe outcome.
What is Porsche Night Vision Assist and How Does it Work?
- Using a thermal imaging camera installed up front, your Porsche will register the infrared signature emitted by all living beings a full 100 meters further than your headlights can see (at the same highway speeds mentioned above, that adds 3-seconds to your response time).
- The Night Vision Assist computer then calculates a differential thermal image and feeds it to the right-hand “Car & Info” display in your instrument cluster. As soon as the thermal imaging camera detects people or animals, they’re clearly highlighted in a yellow frame in the otherwise black-and-white image. The idea is that the driver will intuitively notice the color change and be forewarned of the impending danger. If the control module calculates that the situation is a more serious hazard, the marking changes from yellow to red.
- Even if another function of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system is currently active in the respective display, the PCM automatically shows the image from the Night Vision Assist in case of danger.
- More importantly, the system primes your Porsche's brakes in order to o stop as quickly as possible, if needed.
- At the same time, a symbol depicting either a pedestrian or an animal warning is displayed to the left of the tachometer in the “Speed & Assist” instrument. Lastly, an audible warning is issued inside the cockpit.
As the system is capable of distinguishing between people and animals it reacts differently on the outside depending on what's in front of you:
- When a pedestrian comes into view, your Porsche's PDLS Plus light will briefly flash 3-times making the potential danger much more visible to the driver.
- When an animal is detected, the Night Vision Assist system is smart enough to not flash the lights as many could be startled from this action and pose an even greater danger.
- Night Vision Assist switches on automatically in darkness and is active up to a speed of 155 mph.
- The animal warning function is automatically deactivated in urban areas in order to prevent false alarms triggered by dogs on leashes and the like.
- Technological heat sources, such as a recently ridden motorcycle, are ignored by Night Vision Assist.
How Much Does Night Vision Assist Cost and What Models is it Available On?
As of right now, Porsche's Night Vision Assist is only available on the new Panamera. However, moving forward it will be available on the 2019 Cayenne and will hopefully trickle down to other models in time. Cost for the system is $2450 as a stand alone option. Or, you can get on the Panamera as part of the larger, more expensive Assistance Package ($5370) that includes: Porsche's InnoDrive with Adaptive Cruise Control and Traffic Jam Assist, Lane Keep Assist and Night Vision Assist.