Lighting technology: intelligent headlights

On the subject of lighting technology for cars, there’s still potential for improvement. A new research project goes one step ahead with intelligent LED lighting.

Die neue Klasse intelligenter adaptiver Scheinwerfer kann dank tausender einzeln ansteuerbarer Lichtpunkte gezielt andere Verkehrsteilnehmer vor Blendung schützen – während die weitere Umgebung optimal ausgeleuchtet bleibt. Photo: Osram

A new class of intelligent adaptive headlights is able to protect other road users from glare – thanks to thousands of individually controllable lighting spots. At the same time, the surrounding area receives optimal illumination. (Picture: Osram)

A team of different German manufacturers and researchers has developed a new headlight for cars with LED technology. It is set to revolutionize the field of car lighting. First it has to be stated that the lighting technology for cars has already considerably improved in the last few years. Traditional filament lamps are to be discontinued, even the former exclusive and expensive extra of xenon gas discharge lamps saw its best days some time ago: It is regarded as outdated.

Oncoming traffic is blanked out

The future of vehicle lighting lies in LED lights. Meanwhile, this bright source of light fulfils many of the desires of engineers. LED lights are sustainable, consume little energy and produce, uniform light beams that are well focusable with the headlights. Meanwhile, the industry is two steps further with LED technology. The first step has been the so-called adaptive headlights, which have already been introduced with the xenon headlights. Sensors in the windscreen allow the car to change automatically between driving and passing beam, if oncoming traffic occurs during the night.

The next step, which can already be ordered for some actual car models, is the so-called matrix lights. They consist of single LED segments, which are selectively driven by sensors and control electronics. Oncoming vehicles get “cut out” of the light beam. In this way, the rest of the road can be illuminated optimally and at the same time, the oncoming traffic isn’t dazzled.

The new system also detects single persons

The German research alliance now has presented a further development of this technique. The project leader Osram together with its project partners Daimler, Fraunhofer, Hella and Infineon has invented the demonstration model. Every headlight got three new LED light sources with 1,024 spots that are individually controllable. This allows adapting the headlights precisely to the actual traffic situation. It makes optimal lighting conditions without blinding other road users.

The light can be adapted to every curve shape, preventing dark corners. With the help of sensors in the car, the environment can be analysed and other road users can get sufficiently illuminated. This helps the driver to better distinguish them in the dark. At the same time, the light, to make sure they don’t get dazzled, is able avoid the heads of oncoming road users. With such a flexible high beam, it would become superfluous to fade out on the highway.

Read more: Lights in the dark

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