If you find the thought of self-driving cars concerning, you probably have a lot more to worry about if you drive a black or dark-colored car at night. As night falls, the cameras and sensors that a self-driving car uses to navigate apparently have trouble “seeing” dark-colored vehicles.
The technology used by autonomous vehicles – Light Detection and Radar (LIDAR) – shines lasers swiftly and constantly over the car’s surroundings to create a computer-generated obstacle course, which the car is programmed to move through. However, dark-colored cars are more likely to absorb that light, which needs to be reflected back to the sensor to be seen.
It’s not as big of a problem for lighter colored cars, and a newly-invented auto paint is able to solve the problem by combining an exterior layer of paint that allows the LIDAR’s near-infrared paint to pass right through and bounce back off a reflective under-layer – but if your car doesn’t fit in either category, you might want to watch out.