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Visual Target Detection Models for Civil Twilight and Night Driving Conditions

Helmut T. Zwahlen, Ph.D.
Russ Professor
Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory
Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering
Ohio University, Athens Ohio 45701-2979
(740) 593-1550

Thomas Schnell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Cognitive Human Factors Laboratory
Department of Industrial Engineering
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1527

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ABSTRACT
A luminance contrast based computer visibility model is discussed in this paper and compared with the
civil twilight method which has recently been introduced. The civil twilight method attempts to predict the
visibility of “ordinary objects” (reflectance 3% to 79%, average size) using only the headlamp illuminance
at the target. It is suggested by the authors that the one-factor approach used by the civil twilight method
is insufficient to satisfactorily address target visibility in the field. Developers of more advanced visibility
models generally attempt to design their models based on the current state of the visibility research and
with enough capability to obtain a reasonable degree of realism. The authors consider the level of the
benchmark illuminance (3.2 lx) used in the civil twilight method to be too high, leading to very short
detection distances for pedestrians (refer to literature review) under automobile headlamp illumination at
night. The developers of the civil twilight method claim that the 3.2 lx visibility benchmark is based on
systematic visual observations made by astronomers over a century ago. The use of the civil twilight
method for pedestrian detection under automobile headlamp illumination at night is strongly discouraged
by the authors of this paper, because the method may be misused by forensic “experts” if there is a
need to produce arbitrarily short pedestrian detection distances, irrespective of factors including the
clothing reflectance, contrast, pedestrian size, windshield transmittance, atmospheric transmissivity, etc.

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INTRODUCTION
The detection of targets under low light conditions has been of great interest to the scientific visibility
community in the recent past. A rather large body of research is available, providing the scientific
framework for target detection and target visibility, both from a theoretical and empirical point of view.
The list of visibility research that investigated human visual performance is too long to be completely
covered within the scope of this paper. It is, however, generally accepted that Blackwell [1][2][3] was a
major contributor of visual performance data forming the basis of our understanding of the capabilities
and limitations of the human visual system. More or less elaborate visibility models have been
developed in recent years based on such empirical visual performance data. Visibility models have
become an invaluable tool for predicting the visibility of targets under a wide range of viewing conditions.
Recent visibility models include the TARDEC model (army model) [4][5][6][7], the CIE (Committee
Internationale de L’Eclairage) model [8], the PCDETECT model [9], Adrian’s model [10], and computer
based visibility models developed by the authors [11][12][13][14]. These models are fairly elaborate and
were generally designed based on recent visibility research. The aim generally is to provide a visibility
model that is sufficiently precise (near true target value) and sufficiently accurate (small dispersion) in its
predictions under selected (possibly wide) range of input parameters. Another approach to target
visibility predictions was taken by Owens et al [15] and Andre and Owens [16] with their civil twilight
method. On the surface, their approach appears to provide a simple, holistic benchmark method to
address the issue of target visibility under automobile low-beam illumination at night. However, their
method has only 1 input parameter, namely the illumination at a point ahead of an automobile at a
selected height, on a plane normal to the illumination axis. It should be evident to readers who are
familiar with the basics of human visual performance at low light levels, that a one factor approach is
insufficient address target visibility in the field. It seems that the use of illumination at the target as a
visibility benchmark is a poor choice anyway. A better choice would be to use the target luminance,
which at least would implicitly account for target reflectance. That would, of course require exact
knowledge of the target reflectance properties. The civil twilight method was deliberately kept simple by

arousal. expectancy and retinal eccentricity [17]. luminance and color contrast sensitivity. holistic approaches such as the civil twilight method. on environmental characteristics such as atmospheric transmissivity. workload. etc. While even the most advanced current visibility models are not able to explain all of the variability. The members of the visibility research community should rightfully be concerned about the proliferation of general. so that the only instrument needed to conduct measurements in the field would be a illuminance meter. [15] and Andre and Owens [16]. the list of independent variables may be significantly expanded. it is fairly self evident that they provide far more precise (near true target value) and accurate (small dispersion) predictions for a specific visibility situation than a simple model such as the civil twilight method. probability of detection. on the background characteristics.4 Owens et al. or unknown cognitive factors such as focus of attention. It depends on the visual target characteristics. . In light of the vast scientific knowledge that was gathered to date by many visibility researchers. on characteristics of the light source. transient glare. and on a multitude of observer characteristics including (but not limited to) age. Although the influence of many of these factors can be modeled. In real world settings there may be unknown physical factors such as dirt on the headlamps or the windshield. distraction. Human visual performance is not a field that should be trivialized by one-size-fits all benchmarks such as the civil twilight method. Such a holistic approach to a specialized field of research seems to be an attempt to undermine and reverse recent advances in visibility modeling. that could potentially influence the visibility of a target. adaptation level. it depends. In dynamic settings. it is hard to understand why Andre and Owens [16] pose the general question of “how much light do we need to see ?” The answer is. It should be noted that even the most advanced visibility model couldn't guarantee that a given observer would really be able to detect a target exactly as predicted by the model all the time. ambient illumination. it is not always sure that their presence is known in a specific case.

and the structure of visual target detection models as they relate to dawn. Serious visibility experts know that the answer to that question depends on many issues. It is our opinion that visibility modeling should remain the domain of visibility researchers only. Non-experts should consult experts if they seek a simple answer to the difficult question of “how much light do we need to see”. There are a number of relatively advanced and higher fidelity visibility models [4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] that are based on the recent and/or present state of the art in visibility research. Also. the design of retro-reflective sheeting materials and pavement markings. [15] does not consider two of the major independent variables. simply by using an illuminance meter. and night driving conditions. Owens at al. The civil twilight method attempts to determine the detection distance of a target seen at a selected height under automobile headlamp illumination by using the amount of headlamp illuminance at the target. There is a need to discuss the advantages. Visibility models are also often used by forensics experts in litigation cases involving automobile accidents at night. These models consider many of the relevant factors of influence. disadvantages. Thanks to being packaged in computer software. namely target size and reflectance. most of these models can be used by specialists with relative ease. the design of traffic signals. on a plane normal to the illumination axis as the only driving factor. leading to very short detection distances (refer to literature review) under automobile headlamp illumination at night. In addition.2 lx) chosen by Owens et al [15] is considered to be too high. [15] and Andre and Owens [16] suggest a method by which almost anyone. dusk.5 Statement of the Problem Luminance contrast based driver visibility models represent an important cornerstone in the design of automobile lighting systems. could categorize a visual target seen under automobile headlamp illumination into the visible or not visible category. . non-experts on the other hand may not be aware of this. etc. the level of the benchmark illuminance (3. nonexperts and experts. the civil twilight method proposed by Owens et al.

functional approach. [15] do not consider the two headlamps to be laterally separated but rather to be both located in the center of the vehicle (cyclops geometry). allows for quantification of the nighttime motorist visibility under automobile illumination.6 REVIEW OF THE TECHNICAL LITERATURE Owens. and 59”.2 lx was measured agreed rather well with the twilight plateaus provided by their civil twilight method. The civil twilight method proposed by Owens et al. Andre and Owens [16] found that the distances at which an illuminance of 3. CD is the luminous intensity in candelas of the (Cyclops) headlamp in the direction of the target. It should be noted. Simply claiming that a visibility benchmark method works for all “ordinary objects” is vague and misleading. that Owens et al. Andre and Owens [16] state that they have tested the predictions of their civil twilight method in the field. [15] only refer to the targets as being “ordinary objects”. the civil twilight method. and it appears that such a method makes very little use of the current state of the art in visibility research. that according to their claims. It should be . 35”.3 (1) where TD is the twilight distance in feet. implying that the target reflectance may vary from R=3% to R=79%. Francis. They used an automobile (1990 Buick Skylark) with aligned headlamps and simply measured the illumination from the headlamps at specific grid-points ahead of the automobile at a height of 12”.2 lx). [15] determines the visibility distance of a target seen (at a selected height) under automobile headlamp illumination by locating the distance ahead of the vehicle at which the illuminance provided by the headlamps equals the twilight illuminance ETD[lx] as indicated by Equation (1) TD = CD 0. and Leibowitz [15] proposed a simple. The reader should refer to [18] for an additional discussion of the civil twilight method [15]. Owens et al.3 is the twilight illumination in footcandles (3. and 0.

nothing more. and Vanstrum [25]. Olson and Sivak [23]. Blackwell [1]. Chrysler et al. Andre and Owens [16] simply established the iso-illuminance distances at selected grid points and vertical heights. about the visual performance of human observers under specific conditions. Target detection distances from some of the above references are tabulated in Table 1. and Allen [19]. A meaningful validation. Ward. however. whatsoever. Blomberg et al. Blackwell and Blackwell [2]. One may agree that such measurements are useful for checking the accuracy of physical. Such an experiment would be bound to disclose the shortcomings of the civil twilight method because this method is unable to explain the large variation that would be found in such a field experiment. Shinar [20]. [22]. photometrical quantities. would have to include a wide range of observers whose task is to detect a wide range of targets under a wide range of conditions. Strickland. Other target detection refernces that are discussed in detail in [18] are Hazlett. and Allen [24].7 noted that calling such measurements a “test of predictions” provided by a visibility model is highly misleading. [21]. Zwahlen and Schnell [26]. Klassen. Their measurements prove nothing. . Austin.

they must be validated. In model building. [15] claim that the civil twilight method implicitly accounts for a number of factors by virtue of the generality of the civil twilight method. models of processes are often developed to demonstrate a concept. Sometimes. one aims at determining the main effects and as many interaction effects as possible. they must provide fairly accurate (small dispersion) and precise (near true target value) results. It is. It should be noted that Owens et al. it would be relatively simple to come up with test cases involving the factors that are neglected by the civil twilight method to demonstrate that the civil twilight method may provide completely inaccurate detection distance predictions. the model with the highest correlation (R 2) should be selected for use until a better model is found.2 lx benchmark value is unable to explain the large variation of detection distances that are observed for different targets illuminated under different conditions. and they should be accepted by the majority of the scientists and engineers. and observed by different observers. to facilitate the understanding of a concept or process and to describe.8 Basic Issues Regarding Visibility Modeling In general. however. Usually. Certainly. The civil twilight method is supposed to encompass the visibility of all targets with an imaginary average reflectance. in an abstract form. While approximations are sometimes used in engineering. The reader should note that the human performance part of the civil twilight method has not been validated in the field. one has to increase the complexity and the completeness. in order to obtain a high correlation between the predicted and observed values. There should be no doubt that today’s state of the art visibility models far exceed the capability of the civil twilight method in explaining the variability found in the visual detection . The visibility research community is called upon to conduct the research needed to build even more complete models. an average size. etc. a process the way we think it works. quite evident that the civil twilight method with its rigid 3. an average background luminance. Figure 1a illustrates a basic fact of model building. In order to increase the degree of realism obtained with a model. models are used to predict the behavior of a system without disturbing the system itself. one should be aware that for such approximations to be useful.

and the legibility of traffic signs [35]. two and four dimensional retro-reflectivity matrices for beaded and micro-prismatic sheeting materials (see [14]). State of the art visibility models provide estimates that correspond to selected percentiles of a psychometric function. is a single digital benchmark value that attempts to classify visual stimuli into the visible or not visible category. The underlying field factors are task dependent and were derived for a multitude of visual targets and tasks. the detection of small negative contrast targets. simply because some variation is there in the real world. and the visual targets in 6 degrees of freedom each. While the authors do not claim that their visibility models [11][12][13][14] or models developed by others [7][8][9][10] account for all the previously mentioned factors. Also. There will always be a less than perfect fit (R2<1. they at least tend to include the most important factors for which research is available. the light sources. It is well known that human visual performance follows psychometric functions such as the ones established by Blackwell [1][2]. The human performance component of the observer model is based on data from Blackwell [1][2]. the detection of pavement marking targets (numerous field experiments conducted by these authors [27][28][29][30][31][32] [33] and [34]).9 of targets. The reader should refer to Figure 1b for an illustration of the basic components of a state of the art visibility model. exact 3 dimensional representation of the observer. to real world settings using normal observers.0) of the predicted visibility distances with the actually observed visibility distances. With the advent of inexpensive . the visibility models developed and used by the authors use candlepower matrices for each separate light source. The calibration model is used to adjust the Blackwell threshold contrast [1] that was obtained for circular targets under nearly ideal laboratory conditions. should one expect a visibility model ever to be free of variation and to be able to provide precise pinpoint predictions of target visibility. By no means. reflectance values for diffuse materials. two dimensional retro-reflectance matrices for pavement markings and road surfaces. however. it uses an age function [11]. Table 2 shows a list of items that are thought to be of most importance when designing a visibility model. and a calibration model that provides task dependent field factors. an exposure time function. From the table. including the detection of a diffuse human figure target (positive contrast) [21]. it is evident that the civil twilight method ignores most items that are contained in state of the art visibility models. The civil twilight method. a probability of detection function. on the other hand.

based on the need of the US Navy to learn more about the threshold contrast of the human eye. No psychophysical target detection field research was ever published to determine the validity of the civil twilight method. The Civil Twilight Method. Athens. [15] and Andre and Owens [16] state that their 3. If these researchers already felt they needed more adequate data to better understand target visibility it would appear that more recent data provided by Blackwell [1][2] and other visibility researchers supersedes observations made by astronomers over 100 years ago. allowing for the isolation of main effects and interaction effects. if the designers and visibility scientists at the time had felt that they already had a handle on target visibility with the civil twilight observation data provided by astronomers. especially not if the research is taken out of context 100 years later. used extensive visibility field research data to allow the use of laboratory visibility research data [1][2] in models that predict target visibility under specific real-world conditions (calibration of model). The simple fact that some research is over 100 years old does not necessarily lend more credence to its adequacy. Ohio. the office of scientific research and development established the Tiffany foundation to further the state of the knowledge in visibility research. The human factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Ohio University. This is especially true since modern psychophysical experiments were conducted under controlled conditions. During WWII. This large and relatively expensive study would not have been commissioned. Astronomers back then and today are generally more concerned about the visibility of astronomical objects rather than target visibility under automobile illumination. Old Science Taken Out of Context Owens et al. thus further reducing the need for a simple approach such as the civil twilight method. . A large scale study funded by the Tiffany foundation was conducted by Blackwell [1].10 computers it is fairly easy to obtain the results of target detection models almost instantaneously.2 lx visibility benchmark is based on systematic visual observations made by astronomers over a century ago.

2 lx reported by Owens et al. The measurement cycle was repeated from 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the evening civil twilight to 30 minutes after the end of the . 1998 (overcast evening) and on March 26.11 LUMINANCE AND ILLUMINANCE MESUREMENTS DURING CIVIL TWILIGHT ON AN OVERCAST EVENING AND ON A CLEAR EVENING It was hypothesized by the authors of this paper that the ambient illuminance and target luminances during civil twilight are highly dependent on weather conditions and on the direction in which the measurements are performed. It is technically defined as the period of time beginning (or ending) when the center of the (refracted) sun is lower than a given elevation. Civil twilight corresponds to the sun being between 0° and 6° below the horizon. The measurements reported in this section should provide the reader with an idea of the range of available ambient natural illuminance and its directionality during the civil twilight period on an overcast evening and on a clear evening. luminances were measured on a gray target and on a white target to obtain the range of luminances as a function of time and direction during the civil twilight period. obtained at the end of the civil twilight on a clear day. Ohio (Longitude:82 o. An overcast evening was chosen for part of the measurements reported herein to demonstrate that the twilight illuminances can be considerably lower than the value of 3. [15] chose an illuminance of 3. Twilight is defined as the transition period from day to night (or night to day) when the sky is not completely dark. It should be noted. In addition. as their benchmark illuminance ETD in the civil twilight method. 1998 (clear evening). and Method The measurements were conducted on the beach parking lot of the Strouds Run State Park outside Athens. [15] under such conditions. 20'. 20" W. Latitude:39 o. Measurement Site.2 lx. The clear evening measurements were conducted to confirm that one would obtain twilight illumination values that are considerably higher than the ones measured during an overcast evening. 06'. that Owens et al. nautical twilight to 6° and 12°. Setup. 14"N) during the civil twilight on February 3. and astronomical twilight to 12° and 18°.

108. West. and Northwest. the Pritchard 1980A was tilted 90o up to obtain the sky illuminance. Both targets were made of posterboard 0. 1998 (clear evening) on the white target. 1998) at the Strouds run parking lot site.6m. At the end of the illuminance measurement cycle.108 and on the white target had a reflectance of R=0.92. For the luminance measurements. The clear . Figure 4a shows the luminance values that were measured during the evening civil twilight of March 26. The white target was left untreated. The measurements consisted of repeated cycles of one full revolution of luminance measurements (white and gray target in each position as indicated in Figure 2) followed by one full revolution of illuminance measurements including one measurement taken skywards (straight up). The gray target had a reflectance of R=0. Southwest. Again.92 are shown in Figure 3a. the targets (see Figure 2) were positioned in 8 directions: North. Care was taken to ensure that virtually no alternative (other than natural) sources of illumination were present. South. Southeast. At 6:19pm (end of the evening civil twilight). In spite of the diffuse overcast sky conditions.0012 cd/m2. At 6:19pm (end of the overcast evening civil twilight on February 3. the white target provided an average luminance of 0. Results of the Luminance and Illuminance Measurements Figure 3. 1998) and on a clear evening (March 26. Figure 3b shows the measured luminance values (overcast evening) for the gray target with a reflectance of R=0.52 cd/m2. The measured luminance values (overcast condition) for the white target with a reflectance of R=0. Northeast.6m x 0. a substantial directionality effect is observed and the average luminance of the white target at the end of the civil twilight is 0. East. Figure 4.12 evening civil twilight. The targets were removed for illuminance measurements.012 cd/m2. The gray target was spray painted with a blend of Krylon Satin Black spray paint and Krylon Satin White spray paint. 1998). the gray target provided an average luminance of 0. and Figure 5 summarize the luminance and illuminance values measured on the overcast evening (February 3. a small directionality effect was found as evidenced by the spread of the luminance curves in Figure 3a.

[15]. Therefore.13 evening civil twilight luminance values of the gray target are shown in Figure 4b. Benchmarks should not be based on highly variable phenomena but rather on highly reproducible phenomena.0009 cd/m 2 (gray target. Figure 6a shows twilight distance plateaus for an automobile using Ford Taurus low-beam headlamps and a target (size and reflectance are not considered by twilight distance method) with an . whatsoever. Again. The average illuminance over all measured directions at the end of the civil twilight was 1. The measured luminance range practically covers the entire mesopic range. 1998 (overcast evening) at the beach parking lot of the Strouds Run State park are shown in Figure 5a.7 lx. during the evening civil twilight of March 26. overcast sky) to 1. It appears that the series of measurements conducted under clear sky conditions come much closer to the 3. monotonously decreasing function over time. The practice of using the end of civil twilight illuminance as benchmark is highly questionable.2 lx (clear sky). since the photometric conditions associated with the end of civil twilight appear to span the entire mesopic range. The ambient illuminances that were measured on February 3.2 lx stated by Owens et al. which is still 46. the authors recommend the use of more precise. 1998 (clear sky). Looking at Figure 5 one can see that each illuminance line is a well behaved. Figure 5b shows the ambient illuminance [lx] as a function of time with direction as parameter. However. For the specific case of target visibility modeling the authors recommend against the use of benchmarks.042 cd/m2.9% lower than the 3. selecting an end of civil twilight illuminance of 3.2 lx used by the civil twilight method. As in the overcast evening data (Figure 5a). there was a fairly large directionality effect. clear sky). a directionality effect was found.2 cd/m2 (white target.06 lx (overcast sky) to 3.08 lx.2 lx is definitely arbitrary since the measured illuminances at the end of the civil twilight ranged from 0. The luminances measured on the targets at the end of the civil twilight period ranged from 0. At 6:19pm (end of the evening civil twilight) the average illuminance measured was 0. calibrated visibility models that produce unbiased estimates and account for as much of the variation as the current state of research permits. The average luminance of the gray target at the end of the civil twilight is 0.

5m to the right of the longitudinal vehicle axis.6 lx allows the twilight distance to increase to 60m.4 lx and the target is located 2. Comparison of Detection Distances Obtained Using the Civil Twilight Method With Detection Distances Obtained Using a State of the Art Computer Model It was previously mentioned that the civil twilight method neglects a number of factors that are known to significantly affect the visibility of a target.2m to the right of the longitudinal vehicle axis. The plateaus were constructed for various threshold twilight illuminances. it can be seen that the twilight distance is about 43m.5m to the right of the longitudinal vehicle axis. Choosing a twilight illumination of 3. Decreasing the twilight illuminance to 0. the target reflectance. A proprietary computer based visibility model was used by the authors to calculate the detection distances for the selected targets. it seems that the twilight distance method is a completely inadequate approach to solving a complex visual detection modeling problem. This section demonstrates the effect of the angular target size. Using a twilight illuminance of 3.14 assumed vertical target center at 0. Again. A twilight distance of over 100m can be obtained if the twilight illuminance is assumed to be only 0. This computer visibility model is based on the Blackwell human threshold contrast database [1].5m to the right of the longitudinal vehicle axis. A twilight illuminance of 1. and the driver age upon the detection distance of selected targets. if the target is located about 2. Figure 6a basically illustrates that an arbitrary selection of the twilight illuminance will result in an equally arbitrary twilight distance. The illuminance measurements have clearly shown.53m above ground. that an illuminance of 3. if the target is located about 3.2 lx.2 lx will consequently lead to relatively short twilight distances as indicated by Figure 6a.8 lx allows the twilight distance to increase to 87m. The obtained detection distances are compared to the corresponding twilight distances. if the target is placed 1. The age function [11] used in the computer visibility model is based on .2 lx seems quite high.

Candlepower matrices are used for each headlamp separately to determine the illuminance at the target. that only the luminance of the pavement was used as a target background. Two target reflectances R1=0.15 data provided by Blackwell for 156 normal observers of various ages [2].1 are used to demonstrate the effect of target reflectance.53 m above the road surface. It should be noted. using the reflectance of the diffuse target. The reader is referred to [14] for a detailed description of the interpolation method used to determine CTH as a function of the visual angle α subtended by the target and the available background Luminance LB.13m up to 1. that the target did not extend into the horizon sky. Figure 6b illustrates the setup used for the calculations of the detection distance of diffuse targets located on the right road shoulder. C ACT = LT – LB LB (2) Then. With the target luminance LT and background luminance LB. It was assumed. In computing the visibility of a given target.3 and R2=0. To demonstrate the effect of the target size it is assumed that the target size is increased along the vertical dimension from 0.06m. The headlamps. and the targets are accurately accounted for in 3D space. In a final step. the proprietary computer based visibility model first determines the luminance of the background along the longitudinal target axis by using a road surface reflectance matrix (used asphalt in this case). the computer visibility model compares the actual contrast with the threshold contrast C TH determined from Blackwell’s human threshold contrast database [1]. the computer visibility model applies a number of contrast multipliers to account for the observer age [2][11] (25 years . The driver eye location and the headlamp location are valid for a 50 percentile adult in an average car [36]. the computer model determines the actual contrast along the longitudinal target axis using Equation (2). The center of the targets are located 0. the observer. Then the computer model determines the luminance of the target along the longitudinal target axis.

53m above ground) of 53m. probability of detection (P=99.0m.3 at a distance of only 77.26m. 87. to name a few. Figure 7a shows that young observers (25 years) can detect the dark achromatic targets with a reflectance of R=0.2 lx. 0.16 and 65 years used in present paper). All of these distances are shorter than the twilight distance (headlamp illumination equals 3. and 41.26m. 1 Probability of Detection of 99.5m. and a field factor of 10 to account for the difference between Blackwell’s trained observers in the laboratory [1] and normal observers driving in an automobile.5m for a target height of 0. the civil twilight distance method does not consider the factors of contrast and observer age. 0.13m.3m. 36. 0.2σ) means that in 9.6% over the young observers.0m. Also.1 at a detection distance of 30.93%1 used in this paper). respectively.65 seconds used in this paper). and 1.5m.2 lx. diffuse target materials. and 1.000 observations the target is detected . but also fails to predict the severe reduction in detection distance when using dark.0m. All of these distances are longer than the twilight distance (headlamp illumination equals 3. Old observers (Figure 7b) detect the 1.13m. 77.93% (3.06m. Figure 7 clearly illustrates the effect of Target Size and Target Reflectance on the detection distance using the proprietary computer based visibility model. respectively.53m. and 93.0m for a target height of 0. Figure 7b shows that young observers (25 years) can detect the light achromatic targets with a reflectance of R=0. Figure 7 provides evidence that the civil twilight distance method is not only unable to account for target size.993 out of 10. 0. exposure time [37] (0.53m above ground) of 53m.5m which equates to a loss in the visibility distance of 16.06m. 39. The detection distance is given by the longitudinal location at which the actual contrast CACT equals the adjusted threshold contrast CTH’. 0. 0.53m.06m high target with a reflectance of R=0.3 at a distance of 62.

The civil twilight method completely neglects target size and reflectance.9 times lower than the 3.17 Summary. Other factors that are neglected by the civil twilight method. [15] feel that the value of their method lies in its simplicity rather than in its accuracy. 1998 (clear evening). windshield transmittance. in spite of scientific evidence indicating them to be important for visbility modeling are driver age. A series of luminance and illuminance measurements were conducted during the evening civil twilight of February 3. glare. A strong dependency of the measured illuminance on the prevailing weather condition and a directionality effect were found.08 lx at the end of the civil twilight during the overcast evening is 40 times lower than the 3. It is the opinion of the authors of this paper that the civil twilight method as a whole appears to be inadequate and insensitive.2 lx cited by Owens et al. [15]. It is the opinion of the authors of this paper that proposing a simple. just to name a few. and Conclusion This paper investigated and identified the shortcomings of the civil twilight method proposed by Owens et al. and exposure time. Owens et al.2 lx cited by Owens et al. In other words. There really is no need for a simple target detection . is highly questionable and the results of the civil twilight method may be misleading at best. non-validated approach such as the civil twilight method to solve target detection problems under automobile headlamp illumination at night. 1998 (overcast evening) and March 26.7 lx at the end of the civil twilight during the clear evening is still 1. [15] and Andre and Owens [16] as a simple functional approach to determine the visibility distance of an ordinary object under automobile illumination at night. The measured illuminance of 0. [15]. for the civil twilight method it does not matter whether the target is a dark clad pedestrian or a large light colored farm animal. The measured illuminance of 1. Discussion. atmospheric transmissivity. and should not be used at all. The civil twilight method attempts to determine the detection distance of a target seen under automobile headlamp illumination at night by using the amount of illuminance provided by the headlamps as the only benchmark factor.

windshield transmittance. since advanced target detection/visibility/legibility models are available as computer programs that can be used by specialists. no claim should be made that the civil twilight method is an accepted.18 algorithm like the civil twilight method. scientific method to determine the visibility of targets. validated. because the method may be misused by forensics “experts” if there is a need to produce arbitrarily short pedestrian detection distances. contrast. pedestrian size. . At this point in time. Advanced visibility models that are calibrated with field data and which consider a multitude of factors provide predictions that are more precise (near true target value) and more accurate (small dispersion) than predictions made by the civil twilight method. The use of the civil twilight method for pedestrian detection under automobile headlamp illumination at night is strongly discouraged by the authors of this paper. irrespective of factors including the clothing reflectance. etc. atmospheric transmissivity. adequate.

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20 .

21 Luminance of a white target taken in different directions. Ohio o o (Longitude:82 06’ 20" W. Gray Target. 1998 Figure 3. Latitude:39 20’ 14"N) During the Evening Civil Twilight on February 3. 10 1 SE S Luminance [cd/m^2] SW W NW 0. Stroud’s Run State Park. R=0.1 E Sunset: 5:52pm 0. Lat: 39:18:58N. R=0.92 Luminance of a gray target taken in different directions. ends: 6:19pm.01 E Sunset: 5:52pm 0. Ohio. ends: 6:19pm. Stroud’s Run State Park. 100% overcast. During Evening Civil Twilight . Long: 82:05:42W Civil Twilight begins: 5:52pm.001 End of Civil Twilight: 6:19pm 0. Athens.001 5:30 5:35 5:40 5:45 5:50 5:55 6:00 6:05 6:10 6:15 6:20 6:25 6:30 6:35 6:40 6:45 Time Begin a. 100% overcast. 100 10 SE S Luminance [cd/m^2] SW W 1 NW N NE 0. Long: 82:05:42W Civil Twilight begins: 5:52pm.108 Luminance Measurements Conducted on the Beach Parking Lot of the Strouds Run State Park Outside Athens. Overcast Evening: Target Luminance [cd/m2] as a Function of Time with Direction as Parameter. Athens. Lat: 39:18:58N. White Target.01 End of Civil Twilight: 6:19pm 0. Ohio.1 N NE 0.0001 5:30 5:35 5:40 5:45 5:50 5:55 6:00 6:05 6:10 6:15 6:20 6:25 6:30 6:35 6:40 6:45 Time Begin b.

Athens.108 Luminance Measurements Conducted on the Beach Parking Lot of the Strouds Run State Park Outside Athens.001 End of Civil Tw ilight.01 0. Gray Target. 7:13 0.0001 6:15 6:20 6:25 6:30 6:35 6:40 6:45 6:50 6:55 7:00 7:05 7:10 7:15 7:20 7:25 7:30 7:35 7:40 Time at Beginning of Measurements a. Latitude:39 20’ 14"N) During the Evening Civil Twilight on March 26. OH. 6:46 E Gray 0.22 Luminance of w hite square target in different directions during Civil Tw ilight. Clear sky. Longitude: 82:05:42W 1000 SE White S White 100 SW White W White Luminance [cd/m^2] 10 NW White N White NE White 1 E White Beginning of Civil Tw ilight. White Target. R=0. R=0. 26 March 1998.01 End of Civil Tw ilight. Latitude: 39:18:58N.1 0.001 0.1 0. 1998 Figure 4. 26 March 1998. Longitude: 82:05:42W 100 SE Gray S Gray SW Gray Luminance [cd/m^2] 10 W Gray NW Gray N Gray 1 NE Gray Beginning of Civil Tw ilight. Latitude: 39:18:58N.92 1000 Luminance of gray square target in different directions during Civil Tw ilight. OH. Clear Evening: Target Luminance [cd/m2] as a Function of Time with Direction as Parameter. Stroud’s Run. Clear sky. Ohio o o (Longitude:82 06’ 20" W. Athens.0001 6:15 6:20 6:25 6:30 6:35 6:40 6:45 6:50 6:55 7:00 7:05 7:10 7:15 7:20 7:25 7:30 7:35 7:40 Time at Beginning of Measurements b. During Evening Civil Twilight . 6:46 0. Stroud’s Run. 7:13 0.

001 5:40 5:45 5:50 5:55 6:00 6:05 6:10 6:15 6:20 6:25 6:30 6:35 6:40 6:45 Time Begin a.1 S SW W 3.2lx at 6:04pm when measuring up 10 1 SE NW N NE 3. Illuminance [lx] as a Function of Time with Direction as Parameter. Athens. Overcast Evening. Ohio.01 0. ends: 6:19pm.01 0. OH. February 3. Stroud’s Run. Clear sky.08lx at end of civil twilight 0. Clear Evening.2lx at 7:06pm w hen measuring East 1 0. Stroud’s Run State Park. 1998 Figure 5.2lx at 7:13pm w hen measuring West 10 Illuminance [lux] SE W NW N 3. 26 March 1998. 1000 Illuminance [lux] 100 0.2lx 0. During Evening Civil Twilight . ends 7:13pm 1000 100 S Stated value of illuminance at the end of Civil Tw ilight.001 6:35 6:40 6:45 6:50 6:55 7:00 7:05 7:10 7:15 7:20 7:25 7:30 7:35 7:40 7:45 7:50 Time at Beginning of Measurements b. Latitude:39 20’ 14"N) During the Evening Civil Twilight on February 3.2 lux.2lx at 6:01pm when measuring NE E Up 3. 1998 Illuminance Measurements Conducted on the Beach Parking Lot of the Strouds Run State Park Outside Athens.23 Illuminance taken in different directions. Lat: 39:18:58N. Long: 82:05:42W Civil Twilight begins: 5:52pm. 100% overcast. 1998 Illuminance in different directions during Civil Tw ilight. Athens.2 lx 0.1 NE E Up 3. Latitude: 39:18:58N Longitude: 82:05:42W Civil tw ilight begins 6:46pm. SW 3. Ohio o o (Longitude:82 06’ 20" W. 3. March 26.

Assumed Vertical Target Center is 0. Achromatic Targets Figure 6.607m Driver Eye Height 1.82m (6ft) 1/2 Lane Wi dth 1.13m Target Height to Center 0. Iso Twilight Distance Plateaus for Various Twilight Illuminations and Setup Used in Detection Distance Calculations .53m 0.65m (12ft) Dri ver Lateral Offs et 0.11m (4ft) 1/2 Lane Width 1.32m Headlamp Separation 1.53m =Origin b. Twilight Distance Plateaus for Ford Taurus Low-Beam Headlamps.06m 0. Setup used for the Calculation of the Detection Distance of Diffuse.53m above Ground Area enclosed by each plateau receives an illuminance at or above the indicated value in lux Lane Width 3.82m (6ft) Longitudinal Distance to Target Driver Longit udinal Offset 2.26m 0.13m Diffuse Target Located on Ri ght Road Shoulder Reflectance 10% and 30% Width 0.05m Headlamp Height 0.16m Vertical Target Dimension 1.24 a.

5m 0.53m above Ground. H6054 low beams.06m high target.1 and R=0.13m to 1.06m high target’ Cth for 0. Reflectance R=0.53m high target.3m 30. 25 years Cth for 0.01 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 Distance [m] b. Actual Contrast and Threshold Contrast as a Function of Longitudinal Distance for Diffuse.2 lux at target) 93.1 Object with center located along right edge line (1. Reflectance = 30%. As Seen Against Used Asphalt.1 Twilight Distance = 53m (3. 25 years’ Cact S i 7 Contrast 10 1 0. Probability of Detection 99.13m high target’ Cact S i 6 0.06m high target.2 lux at target) Cth for 1.53m high target’ Cth for 0.53 m above ground.001 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 Distance [m] a.93% Exposure Time 0. H6054 low beams.25 Object with center located along right edge line (1.5m 87.26m high target’ Cth for 0.53 m above ground. Target Center 0.82m from car center) and 0. Achromatic Targets Ranging in Height from 0.01 39. 65 years Cth for 1. Young Observer 25 years Probability of Detection P=99.65seconds (85th percentile eye fixation duration) Field Factor = 10 100 Cth for 1.93% Exposure Time 0.1 Twilight Distance = 53m (3. Reflectance = 10%.0m 0. 25 years Cth for 0.82m from car center) and 0.0m 41.65seconds (85th percentile eye fixation duration) Field Factor = 10 10 Contrast 1 0.0m 36.0m 62. 25 years Cth for 0.13m high target.3 Figure 7.5m 77.06m. Reflectance R=0. Reflectance of R=0.3 .26m high target.

target expected at exact longitudinal distance. 9% Light Dark Dark Gray cloth.8% Reflectance Not considered Gray Not considered Not considered Not considered Not considered White cloth. target not expected Field.33m Adult human Adult human Garmet size . 5% Reflectance Adult human 152 20-58 Low beams Pedestrian Khaki. entries shown in white on black indicate oncoming car glare conditions. 27" above ground Small road hazard Human figure on right Human figure on Left Any target on ground level Child mannequin Any target on ground level Child.3" above ground Simulated pedestrian Not considered Dark Dark Not considered Not specified Not specified Black cloth. Leibowitz and Owens Olson and Sivak Owens et al. rural roads. 75% Not considered Adult human Adult human Not considered Not specified Not specified . Jacket Khaki. 27" above ground Human adult figure target Any target on ground level Any target on ground level Any target. rural test track Field. target expected at exact longitudinal distance. 5% Reflectance Adult human 20-58 Low beams Pedestrian Khaki.3m x 1. laterally located either on center. rural roads. dark test course Field. rural roads. Blood Alcohol Content = 0 Field. 16% Not considered Not specified Light Not considered 31. Approaching Glare source Field. Approaching Glare source Field. Trousers Human adult figure target Adult. rural test track Twilight Distance Field. 5% Reflectance Adult human 165 20-58 Not specified Low beams Low beams Pedestrian Adult. 70% Reflectance White White White Adult human Garmet size .2m 20-58 Low beams Pedestrian Khaki. Approaching Glare source Field. dark test course Twilight Distance Field.06m tall Not considered Not specified Not considered Not considered Not considered Not considered . Owens et al. 70% Reflectance Gray White Not considered 37. left or right Field. dark test course Field. jacket Small road hazard Pedestrian Pedestrian Adult.5% Reflectance Light Light Not considered 37.3m x . 43. rural roads. 43. laterally located either on center.3" above ground Human figure on Left Human figure on right Any target. dark test course Twilight Distance Twilight Distance Twilight Distance Twilight Distance Field. Owens et al. Bloomberg et al Owens et al. Comparison of Average Target Detection Distances Reported by Various Researchers Note: Entries are sorted by increasing detection distance.3" above ground Pedestrian in dark clothing Pedestrian in white clothing Simulated pedestrian Human figure on Left Human figure on right Human figure on Left Simulated pedestrian Any target. Approaching Glare source Twilight Distance not stated not stated Field.17m x .3" above ground Child mannequin Any target. Blood Alcohol Content = 0 Field. dark test course Field. large Garmet size 8 Not considered 1. Coverall Khaki. target expected within 2km. left or right Field.26 Table 1. rural roads. dark test course Field. left or right Field. 27" above ground Pedestrian in dark clothing Human figure on right Any target. Approaching Glare source Twilight Distance Field. laterally located either on center. Coverall Child jacket Any target. target expected within 2km. Chrysler Owens et al. left or right Field.3m x . rural test track Twilight Distance Field. target walking away from static car Field. laterally located either on center.3m x 1.2m Not considered Not specified Adult human Not considered .8% Reflectance Not considered Gray 31. 5% Reflectance Khaki. rural roads. Chrysler Olson and Sivak Olson and Sivak Owens et al. dark test course Observer Age Beam Type Target Type Target Reflectance/Appearance Target Size Average Detection Distance [m] NV 18 24 29 34 34 34 37 37 37 37 44 49 49 55 73 73 73 86 88 91 94 96 101 105 110 114 125 125 137 143 143 146 146 146 149 Not considered young young Not considered Not considered Not considered Young young young young Young Not considered Not considered young Not considered 53-75 young young Not considered 53-75 Not considered Not specified 19-25 20-58 20-58 Not specified Not specified Not considered 19-25 Not considered Not specified Not considered Not considered Not considered Not considered Young Europe low beams Low beams Low beams US low beams Low beams High beams Low beams Low beams High beams High beams Low beams Europe low beams High beams Low beams US low beams Low beams High beams High beams US low beams Low beams Europe low beams Low beams Low beams Low beams Low beams Low beams Low beams US high beams Low beams US high beams Low beams US high beams Europe High beams Europe High beams Europe High beams Low beams Any target.3m x 1. Approaching Glare source Field. Approaching Glare source Twilight Distance Field. Bloomberg et al Chrysler Shinar Shinar Bloomberg et al Bloomberg et al Owens et al. rural roads. 27" above ground Any target. large 185 219 257 275 150 . Chrysler Owens et al. Blood Alcohol Content = 0 Twilight Distance not stated Field. target not expected Field. Owens et al. large Not specified Garmet size . Leibowitz and Owens Leibowitz and Owens Hazlett and Allen Olson and Sivak Olson and Sivak Olson and Sivak Hazlett and Allen Owens et al. Approaching Glare source Field. NV=Not Visible Researcher(s) Owens et al.5% Reflectance Khaki. target walking away from static car Field.3m x . rural roads.33m Adult human Adult human Not considered 1. 43. 43. Olson and Sivak Olson and Sivak Owens et al.06m tall Not considered Garmet size 8 .2m Adult human Adult human Adult human . 70% Reflectance White Adult human Garmet size 44 175 178 20-58 Not specified Not specified Not specified Low beams Low beams Low beams Low beams Pedestrian Adult. 70% Reflectance Adult human 160 20-58 Low beams Pedestrian Khaki.17m x . rural test track Field. Hazlett and Allen Shinar Shinar Shinar Shinar Shinar Bloomberg et al Shinar Bloomberg et al Bloomberg et al Bloomberg et al Method Twilight Distance Field. dark test course Field.

based on data from Blackwell 1946 and 1971 no yes Target eye fixation duration no yes. based on Blackwell 1946 data yes. based on Blackwell 1946 data no yes.27 Table 2. 3 dof only yes no yes Target size no yes Validation with target and task specific psychometric visibility field data no yes Observer age no yes Model usable for legibility of text Peripheral detection no yes no no Atmosperic transmissivity Above horizon scene background luminance Road surface luminance (for pavement markings) 4 dimensional coefficient of retroreflection matrices for micro-prismatic retro-reflectors 2 dimensional coefficient of retroreflection matrices for beaded materials 2 dimensional coefficient of retroreflectance matrices for pavement markings and road surfaces Reflectance of diffuse reflectors Target location and orientation in 6 dof dof = degrees of freedom Observer attention/arousal Calibration with target and task specific psychometric visibility field data . Ohio University eye scanning research no yes Probability of detection no yes no yes Disability glare no yes no yes Contrast polarity no yes no yes Effects of color contrast no no no yes Effects of non-uniform background luminance no no no yes no no no. Comparison of visibility Model Components Candlepower beam pattern yes Ohio University Visibility Model yes individually defined with 6 dof no Observer location with 6 dof no Civil Component present in Visibility Method Twilight Method Windshield transmission no Component present in Visibility Method Civil Twilight Method Observer threshold contrast no yes Threshold illumination at the eye no yes Adaptation of observer no yes Age-background luminance interaction Ohio University Visibility Model yes yes.

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