The future of headlamp techonology – see it on videoWed, 27 May 2009
By Richard Yarrow
27 May 2009 10:12
Cars of the future will drive at night with main-beam headlamps on all the time, but never dazzle another vehicle. That’s the vision of American component firm Gentex, which already makes the auto-dipping lights on the current BMW 7-series.
Its engineers are working on a new technology called Dynamic Forward Lighting (DFL) which features a single main beam that floods the road with light. Sensors mounted into the back of the rear-view mirror monitor the road ahead and decide when the lights might be dazzling a car ahead or approaching from the opposite direction.
The system then rapidly moves tiny blades, which are fitted inside the lamp unit, to block out the portion of the beam that would cause problems. That ‘cut-out zone’ constantly shifts as the other vehicles move.
Complex in principle, but watch our Gentex-supplied video in our player below to see what they’re talking about.
‘You provide the right amount of light depending on the conditions,’ explains Klaus Weibler, managing director of Gentex Europe. ‘You have the maximum light on all the time to provide maximum vision all the time for the driver.’
DFL works with current xenon lamp technology, but the move towards production reality will come with the expected move to LED technology. That’s because there will be no moving parts. The system simply shuts down the LEDs which aren’t needed, then switches them on again.
Weibler says DFL is ‘some years away’ but confirmed an intermediate system, called Variable Forward Lighting (VFL) will appear much sooner. It has both low and high beams, but can adjust the pattern of the former so it stays on as long as possible. It also works on hills to follow the gradient, so drivers don’t blind the driver ahead and higher up the slope, or aim the beams into the ground.
DFL would currently fall foul of EU legislation, but Gentex says dialogue with Brussels is ongoing and positive.
By Richard Yarrow