Autonomous cars are coming to our streets soon. Beside other tasks, they will have to deal with human drivers and pedestrians, meaning that there will be headlights that will not dazzle other road users. Now Mercedes introduced its idea of the automotive lights of the future: dazzle-free, perfectly adapting to all road conditions and projecting information for the driver and other road users.
These new headlights will essentially work like a projector. They will use car’s sensors, such as cameras or radar, in order to detect other road users and adjust themselves perfectly so that they would not be dazzled. They will also be able to adjust themselves to changing conditions in the road, for example, they will help the driver navigating through narrow road works, in order to ensure maximum safety of the nigh time driving. It is really incredible, how accurate this system is.
Mercedes is saying that this system, called “Digital light” has 2 million pixels. It means that in each of the headlights there is a million of micromirrors, which are adjusted according to situation by electronic chips. Complex algorithms are behind this mechanism – they use data from a variety of sensors around the car and calculate needed brightness for each of the pixel. Result – optimal lighting for the driver, without dazzling other road users. Fischer, Head of Exterior Body Development and Vehicle Operating Systems at Daimler AG, said: “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”. This communication piece is even more interesting.
This system allows car projecting symbols on the surface of the road. For example, it can communicate with the navigation system and inform the driver about sudden turns in the road or help him prepare for some manoeuvres. Of course, as mentioned, it will be especially helpful for autonomous cars, because it can use projected images for communication with others. For example, it can display a zebra crossing pattern to inform pedestrians that it is safe to cross the street. And, of course, since car sensors are able to detect where the eyes of other drivers are, these headlights do not dazzle other road users – individual micromirrors can turn at a different angle, making light dim or fade at a particular range.
Digital light technology really is something we can expect Mercedes-Benz to put into its cars really soon. Especially having in mind that prototype is already being tested. However, at first these innovative headlights will appear in normal Mercedes cars – we will still have to wait some time till autonomous cars really emerge.