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The Sciences

Speed Bumps of the Future: Creepy Optical Illusion Children

DiscoblogBy Joseph CalamiaSeptember 7, 2010 8:23 PM

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Today, West Vancouver officials will roll out a new way to keep drivers alert and slow them down: a little girl speed bump. A trompe-l'œil, the apparently 3D girl located near the École Pauline Johnson Elementary School is actually a 2D pavement painting, similar to the one shown here.

3dgirl1.gif

In what sounds like a terrifying experience, the girl's elongated form appears to rise from the ground as cars approach, reaching 3D realism at around 100 feet, and then returning to 2D distortion once cars pass that ideal viewing distance. Its designers created the image to give drivers who travel at the street's recommended 18 miles per hour (30 km per hour) enough time to stop before hitting Pavement Patty--acknowledging the spectacle before they continue to safely roll over her. The illusion is part of a $15,000 safety program that will run this week, led by the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation and the public awareness group Preventable.ca. As drivers approach, the police will monitor the fake girl's effects. Despite fears that drivers may stop suddenly or swerve into actual 3D children, David Duane of the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation told CTV news that the bump was meant to bring attention to driver-caused pedestrian injuries, and that the fake girl should not cause accidents:

"It's a static image. If a driver can't respond to this appropriately, that person shouldn't be driving...."

In 2008, Philadelphia used similar, virtual speed bumps--more common in Europe--in its "Drive CarePhilly" campaign. Philadelphia, however, chose a less anthropomorphic route--opting for three spikes.

UPDATE: Preventable.ca answers some questions about the experiment in a new blog post.

Route: Discoblog: For the Driver Who Has Everything: An Augmented Reality Windshield From GM Discoblog: Texting-While-Driving Coach Slightly Delays Appalling Crashes Discoblog: Confused (and Injured) Pedestrian Sues Google Maps Over Bad Directions Discoblog: AD4HERE: Digital License Plate Ads May Come to California

Image: Handout/Preventable.ca via PhysOrg.com

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