Alaina Gassler came up with a design that makes a car's front A-pillars appear invisible

By Claudia Harmata
November 06, 2019 12:09 PM

A Pennsylvania teen’s invention could help make roads a safer place.

Alaina Gassler, a 14-year-old from West Grove, Pennsylvania, just won $25,000 for her prototype design that helps eliminate a car’s front blind spots caused by the windshield A-pillars, CNN reported.

“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.”

The A-pillars are an important feature of the car, as they support the windshield and provide protection in the event of an accident. However, they also create areas of the road that are then not visible to drivers.

To combat this issue, Gassler came up with a design that utilizes a webcam, a projector, and retroactive fabric to essentially make the pillars appear invisible.

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In the video, she explains that she set up a camera on the outside of the A-pillar, “and the camera sent video to a projector that projected the image onto the pillar.”

Gassler covered the pillar with the retroactive fabric on the inside of the car, which allows the image from the projector to reflect back. According to CNN, the teen also created and 3D printed a special tool that allows the projector to focus at close range.

She told the outlet that she was inspired to pursue this project when her brother started driving and she wanted to make sure he was safe.

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Alaina Gassler
Society for Science

“When I did research, I found out that there are more than 840,000 blind spot-related car accidents per year just in the U.S., which made this project significantly more important to me,” she told CNN.

Her design won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, which is “the top award in the Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s premier science and engineering competition for middle school students,” according to the Society for Science & the Public. The project was up against the work of 29 other students for the award.

With her prize money, Gassler hopes to update and patent her design, and potentially submit it to car companies like Tesla, CNN reported.

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