HD-quality digital light offers increased safety for night driving

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 02 Dec 2016


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Mercedes-Benz says the new Digital Light generation of headlamps represents highest precision and optimal view for the driver without a dazzling effect as well as performance, driver assistance and co

Daimler has announced a revolution in headlamp technology. What was unveiled in 2015 in the research vehicle F015 as a vision has now been implemented in Mercedes-Benz demo vehicles and will be on the road in the near future.

For the German carmaker’s developers, the future of car light lies in dazzle-free main beam in HD quality. The company says the revolutionary headlamp technology shines with maximum performance and facilitates communication and pioneering driver assistance. The new HD headlamp generation from Mercedes-Benz features chips that work with over one million micromirrors – more than two million in total per vehicle. The intelligent control logic required for the dynamic light functions was developed by Mercedes-Benz itself. Algorithms receive detailed information about the surroundings from the vehicle sensors, and from it calculate in real time the brightness value for each one of over two million pixels.

Digital intelligence at work

This dynamism and precision gives this intelligent system well-nigh countless possibilities to provide ideal, high-resolution light distribution which suits the surrounding conditions perfectly. "The decisive factor is not the technology in the headlamp but the digital intelligence behind it," stresses Gunter Fischer, head of Exterior Body Development and Vehicle Operating Systems at Daimler AG. The innovation was developed by Mercedes-Benz in collaboration with two partner companies and it is a good example of the intern cooperation between the Daimler research and the passenger car development on the road to start of production.

Sensors, such as cameras or radar, detect other road users and powerful computers evaluate the data as well as digital cards in milliseconds and give the headlamps the commands for adapting the light distribution in all situations. These efforts yield optimum vision for the driver without dazzling other road users as well as innovative functions with added safety. "With our ‘Digital light’ strategy, we are not only striving for beam records, rather we want to achieve optimum vision and maximum brightness without glare. Innovative functions for supporting the driver and staging communication with other road users significantly optimise safety when driving at night," emphasises Gunter Fischer.

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Sensors on the vehicle to identify other road users and ideally adapt the light distribution to the environment, thereby shielding the heads of oncoming road users from the light beam.
 

Mercedes-Benz says it does not only want to achieve the ideal light distribution for every driving situation with ‘Digital Light’, but guide and support the driver in a targeted manner in critical situations such as driving through narrow roadworks. Additionally, it will be possible to project light traces onto the road to replace missing road markings. Moreover, digital light systems can also beam messages like direction arrows or warnings onto the road.

With Digital Light, the car will also communicate with other road users in future: for example, symbols or a zebra crossing for pedestrians can be projected. The new lighting technology thus delivers important contributions towards traffic safety and modules on the road to accident-free and autonomous driving – as an integral component of the overall ‘Intelligent Drive’ strategy.

The headlamp becomes a projector 

The new headlamp in HD quality provides a chip working with over a million micro-mirrors. The light is split up into tiny pixels. The smaller these light pixels become the better the system can react to different situations, the more precisely objects and passers-by can be illuminated and simultaneously individual areas can be faded out or dimmed in a targeted manner. The requisite intelligent actuation logic was developed by Mercedes-Benz. This creates an optimum view for the driver, without dazzling other road users.

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The new HD projector technology uses sensors on the vehicle to identify other road users and ideally adapt the light distribution to the environment. In this process, drivers and front passengers of oncoming vehicles are shielded from the light beam and not dazzled.
 

- Presented in October 2016, the new, highly efficient and very compact LED chip from the joint research project µAFS will be found in Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the foreseeable future. Four light points, each with 1,024 individually actuatable LED chips, are installed per headlamp here. This adds up to 8,192 individually actuatable light pixels per vehicle.

- For maximum resolution and performance, Mercedes-Benz is using more than a million light points per HD headlamp with a new type of projection technology. Animated by high-current light-emitting diodes, over two million micro-mirrors in total radiate onto the road surface – each mirror can be moved individually. Initial prototypes are already installed in demonstration vehicles and were presented to the general public in November 2016 as part of night-time journeys.

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