What is Tunnel Effect: The phenomenon by which all surroundings seem to be concentrated at one point at the horizon, this effect results in less perception of the things on the sides of the road.
Why do we get Tunnel Vision?
Our mind has limits to how fast it can process information. According to a study, the human mind can effectively process only 13-15 frames per second of vision. In a close-proximity moving environment like that while driving a human mind is estimated to comfortably process information at no more than 72 MPH (140 KMPH). Beyond those speeds, fading or tunnelling might be experienced.
Currently, the accepted standard for the earliest phases of grey-out is roughly 39 meters per second (140 KMPH). While moving above these speeds, the human mind goes into survival mode and sees only the objects right in front of the eyes. It starts ignoring peripheral visual inputs in order to focus on survival. This is where tunnelling is experienced.
The increased g-force at high speeds is also considered as one possible reason. Due to high g-forces, the blood flow to the brain might not be proper, which could lead to a lack of vision. The curvature of the windshield, safety glass of helmets or safety goggles are also considered to contribute in tunnel vision.
No humans drivers!…… No tunnel vision?
We just discussed that the limitations of the human mind to process information is what leads to the tunnel effect, but what if there is no human involved in driving!
Yes, we are talking about autonomous cars.
Robots certainly are more efficient and faster in processing information than humans. The visual processor of a robot is similar to that of humans. In place of eyes, robots have cameras and sensors, and the processing is done by the central processing unit or the brain.
It might seem that the sensors and the processor arrangement is far more fast at interpreting inputs as compared to humans, which is true to an extent. But they also have limitations.
For understanding the limitations one must understand the process of image processing by a robot. The process broadly involves a set of visual sensor units to recognize what is in front and in the surroundings of the autonomous vehicle. The images are then sent to the processing unit which interprets the input and generates a suitable response for the subsystems.
Now this happens are a fairly fast speed, at least faster than that in a human. While a human can effectively process only 13 -15 frames per second, a computer visual sensor can process up to 60 frames per second. An argument might be raised that the advances in digital signal processing and consumer graphics hardware has made high-speed image acquisition, processing, and display possible for real-time systems on the order of hundreds to thousands of frames per second. But that doesn’t involve the generation of responses.
So at about 60 frames per second, the maximum allowable speed at which the visual system can work effectively increases to about 4 times as compared to humans. That means, there is no real sign of worry for the passengers unless the car is moving with speed more than 540 KMPH.
How to prevent Tunnel Vision?
Well, sadly, we can’t do much about the limitations of our minds. Unless proper training is given no one can truly overcome tunnel vision. So, as a remedy, it is suggested to drive your car at safe speeds and don’t let your vision take your life.
Drive safe. Stay safe.