March 28, 2007 Brake lights on automobiles are limited in the information they can convey - you're either stopping or you're not. Having some indication of just how hard the driver in front is pressing the pedal would undoubtedly add to road safety, and that's the thinking behind this intelligent brake light system developed by researchers at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.

The smart brake light consists of a horizontal LED light bar that shines amber in the middle if a vehicle is simply slowing down, but emits red flashes on either side when braking is urgent. When a critical level of deceleration is reached, all of the lights flash red.

The project, which will be showcased at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville on March 27-29, 2008, is a collaboration between businessman Meade Gwinn and Virginia Tech mechanical engineering Professor Mehdi Ahmadian’s senior design class.

The working prototype also has the potential to be wired into automatic braking system and collision avoidance systems, but there are still several hurdles to overcome before it is likely to become a commercial reality - in particular $50 unit cost.

Via Virginia Tech.