Wouldn't it be great if driving in thick fog, pounding rain or blizzard snow wasn't a visibility nightmare and road markings or important signage remained clear whatever the conditions. General Motors may be on the verge of striking automotive safety gold if the augmented vision display system its R&D team recently demonstrated finds its way to commercial development.

Working with researchers from the numerous institutions including the University of Southern California and Carnegie Mellon University, GM's Research and Development team have come up with an enhanced vision system "that would use data gathered from an array of vehicle sensors and cameras" as well as inward-facing tracking technology to register driver reactions and movement and then "project images generated by compact ultra violet lasers directly onto the entire surface of the windshield".

The upshot being that important information about road conditions and markings, warning messages and numerous other bits of data useful to the driver can be projected directly onto the windshield - giving road edge detail in thick fog, offering helpful speed limit reminders, or warnings about objects in the road ahead. The group's Thomas Seder said: "Let’s say you’re driving in fog, we could use the vehicle’s infrared cameras to identify where the edge of the road is and the lasers could ‘paint’ the edge of the road onto the windshield so the driver knows where the edge of the road is."

The proposed next generation head-up system would use night vision, navigation and camera-based sensor technologies to feed important information and helpful driving aids to a full windshield display, which is "coated with a series of transparent phosphors which emit visible light when excited by a light beam - in this case from a compact laser". Additionally, the system could be combined with technology that has the ability to read road signs (such as that debuted in GM's Opel Insignia in 2009) and warn or remind the driver of speed restrictions or advise when an exit is due.

At this stage the system has not been earmarked for rollout to any vehicles but Seder has hinted that "some of the supporting technologies could end up in GM vehicles in the near-term future".