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Enhancing EV Safety with TiO2-Based Paint



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TiO2-Based Paint

LiDAR is a crucial component of today's autonomous vehicles as it's used to create 3d maps of the environment. Despite recent advancements in LiDAR sensing capabilities, it still has trouble sensing light-absorbing materials such as very black items. A recent study published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces demonstrates how TiO2-based Paint could help to solve these problems. Here's everything you need to know.

What is LiDAR?

To understand why you need highly reflective black paint, you first need to learn about LiDAR and its many uses. LiDAR is a reflective light-based sensor that can determine with great accuracy the shape and distance of objects. These systems work like sonar in that they send out a signal that gets bounced back. The rate at which the signal returns can be used to describe the time or environment.

Source - Acroname LiDAR sensor

Source – Acroname LiDAR sensor

LiDAR uses tiny light pulses rather than sound. This structure provides it with more accuracy in many circumstances.  Today, LiDAR is an essential component in many automated devices. This technology has improved significantly over the last five years with AI integration driving smarter systems.

Highly Reflective Black Paint

Highly reflective black paint can be spread easily on items to ensure that the growing fleet of autonomous vehicles can see them clearly. This advancement may not seem like a big deal but when you realize that there are an estimated 2,531,206 battery and plug-in hybrids on the road today, you can see why not having these vehicles crashing into the community is important. Notably, analysts predict that there will be +26.4M EVs on US highways by 2030.

Using TiO2-based paint could help save millions of lives in the future. Recognizing this fact, a group of innovative engineers led by Chang-Min Yoon embarked on a mission to create a super LiDAR reflective black paint that is easily applied, durable, and thermal resistant. The results of their research is a new TiO2-based paint and creation method that can be easily duplicated and applied at minimal costs.

How TiO2-Based (Titanium Dioxide) Paint is Made

The process of making TiO2-based paint differs from traditional paint in which pigments are mixed with resin, solvent, and additives to create a spreadable coating. To create TiO2-based paint, researchers decided to take a new approach. They completed the etching steps of the process before the reduction.

The first step was to make thin plates with hollow black TiO2 (HL/BT). To accomplish this task, they added a thin layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2) onto small microscopic glass shards. Then, hydrofluoric acid was used to etch the glass away. This method, called sol-gel, leaves behind highly reflective TiO2 residue.

Researchers wanted to take their creation even further. They concluded that a NaBH4 reduction could affect the oxidation state. They then mixed the material with varnish, creating an easily spreadable, highly reflective black paint before entering the testing phase.


The final paint turned out to have a thickness of 140 nm (HL/BT140). This thickness is required as the paint needs to be applied to uneven and oddly shaped surfaces. Testing of the blackness of the paint showed a blackness (L*) of 13.3. This is comparable to common black paint.

The same testing showed a high NIR reflectance of 23.6% at a wavelength of 905 nm. These results surpassed the researcher's expectations and have raised eyebrows in the autonomous vehicle sector. This raised awareness should help the researchers find additional funding.

Testing TiO2-Based Paint

The team set out to prove their creation was LiDAR-friendly using two different types of LiDAR sensors used today, 360-rotating and mirror-based. These sensors can be found on everything from self-driving cars to robot vacuums to military drones. As such, there is a high demand to improve this technology for as little cost as possible.

Their testing phase didn’t need to proceed long as the LiDAR easily recognized the TiO2-based paint consistently, even in dark and visually challenging scenarios. The researchers tested the paint in adverse weather-like conditions and in pure darkness to ensure their results were accurate. They concluded that their new paint was the optimal solution to autonomous vehicle collision prevention.

Real World Applications

Autonomous vehicles are here and TiO2-based paint could help to save lives. This style of paint can be used to ensure that the vehicle performs as promised, even in poor visibility conditions. You could see titanium dioxide paint used to mark school zones, signs, vehicles, lanes, and much more. Interestingly, it will seem like regular black paint to passengers, but to your autonomous vehicle, it will shine as bright as possible. This approach provides reliable and low-cost results that can be implemented immediately.

Key Leaps Forward in Auto Safety

The introduction of highly reflective black paint could save millions of lives in the future. Its innovative concepts like this have helped make riding in your favorite car go from being hazardous to becoming a very safe activity. Here are some other cool innovations that changed the automotive world forever.

Volvo Introduces 3 Point Seat Belt – 1959

You gotta hand it to those brave riders before the 1960s. These drivers would ride around in their heavy steel vehicles with only lap belts. This type of belt wouldn’t control your upper torso. As such, it was common for people to experience head and upper body injuries while wearing a seatbelt.

Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin changed everything with the introduction of the 3-point seat belt in 1959. The Volvo Amazon and Volvo PV544 were the first two cars to dawn this revolutionary technology that kept both your upper and lower half restrained. Notably, seatbelts are standard today in every vehicle, and for great reasons. They have saved millions of lives and can be attributed as one of the inventions to have helped the most people over the last 100 years.

While Volvo is a publicly traded company, it is primarily listed on the Nasdaq Stockholm stock exchange in Sweden.  In the United States Volvo shares can be traded through American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) instead under the OTC ticker ‘VLVLY'.

General Motors Introduces Airbags – 1973 finviz dynamic chart for  GM

General Motors was ahead of the curve when it introduced the first airbags in 1973. The Oldsmobile Toronado was the first vehicle to offer this revolutionary safety device to the public. During that era, the experimental safety feature was called the “Air Cushion Restraint System.”

The first run of airbags didn’t cause a major market response. GM noted that consumers were not motivated. Consumers appreciated the extra safety but didn't realize how much they were getting until the reports came back years later. As such, GM canceled airbags in their cars just 4 years later in 1977.

Once the numbers revealed the life-saving effects of the invention, the demand rose. However, it wasn’t until 1988 that the US government finally made airbags mandatory for front passengers. Today, airbags are standard on all new vehicles. These inflatable devices have saved countless lives and remain one of the core safety systems protecting you and your loved ones when in transit.

Mercedes Benz Introduces ABS – 1978

Another major safety upgrade that helped to keep people safer on the highways was the introduction of ABS braking systems in 1978. The first ABS was on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class W116. This high-end vehicle featured a host of exclusive luxury and safety options for its time.

ABS was revolutionary because it prevented the steering wheel from locking up during moments of intense braking. The ABS monitors for wheel lock and releases and initiates the brake rapidly to prevent a lack of steering. Over many years of painstaking research, Mercedes was able to introduce the first four-wheel multi-channel anti-lock brake system. Fast forward to today, and it's standard for every vehicle on the road.

Much like Volvo, Mercedes Benz is a publicly traded company primarily listed on a European exchange – the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Germany.  Its shares can also be accessed as ADRs over-the-counter under the ticker ‘MBGYY'.

The Future of Auto Safety

Safety advancements continue to change the way people commute. Today's standard features include multiple airbags, safety belts, anti-collision systems, and more. All of these inventions work in unison to create the safest environment possible. The introduction of smart vehicles adds another layer of safety enhancements to the equation.

Many believe that the roadways will soon lack human drivers at all. They have noticed that the age of autonomous and AI-controlled vehicles is approaching fast. Consequently, safety could be increased by a simple software update, changing paint, or upgrading sensors rather than creating new tires or seat belts.

TiO2-Based Paint – An Autonomous Safety Upgrade Everyone Needs

Self-driving vehicles are here to stay for many reasons. They have the potential to improve safety, lower costs, and make daily life easier for millions. The introduction of TiO2-based paint will help make that scenario safer for all. For now, there's still a lot of research to be done on the business side of this venture. As such, it's wise to keep tabs on this development and how it could be implemented in the coming years.

Learn about other cool transportation projects here.

David Hamilton is a full-time journalist and a long-time bitcoinist. He specializes in writing articles on the blockchain. His articles have been published in multiple bitcoin publications including