Car headlights have come a long way, from the early days of oil-powered lamps to today's LED technology, tracking their evolution is as fascinating as the evolution of the car itself.
With this progression, recent advances in automotive illumination have shown us what "smart" headlights can do. Onboard cameras and computer systems can monitor road conditions and make headlights adapt to road hazards and pedestrians.
All this futuristic technology is "dazzling," for sure, but one car maker is pushing the headlight to the next level.
Introducing the HD Headlights
Mercedez-Benz has unveiled a new, finer version of its MULTIBEAM LED headlights and is dubbing it as HD (High-Definition) technology.
The new type of headlight has precise control of the light beam that allows for projection of complex images on the road, including text, GPS directions and road warnings.
How is this even possible? Well, 2 million adjustable micromirrors (a million per headlight) are controlled by data computer chips that receive data from multiple cameras and radar sensors on the car.
With specific algorithms, the system can then adjust the brightness value for each micromirror in real time according to the road information received.
Let the light guide you
The possibilities for this new HD headlight technology are endless.
Mercedes-Benz demonstrated how the system can track and illuminate pedestrians on the road but keep their heads in the dark so they won't be blinded by the lights.
Additionally, similar to Mercedes-Benz's MULTIBEAM LED headlights, HD headlights will no longer require separate low and high beam modes since the head tracking will work with cars, motorcycles and bikes too.
A more interesting function is the adaptive projection of complex images that can support the driver in specific conditions. The HD headlights can warn the driver of potential road hazards by displaying warnings ahead. The headlights can also act as a navigation tool by projecting direction arrows and traffic signs on the road itself. Wow, now that's pretty cool.
Can't wait to try this out? Well, you'll have to.
The HD headlights are expected to debut on a Mercedes-Benz S-Class European model in 2018.
A U.S. release is still up in the air, though. Current U.S. regulations still require cars to have separate low and high modes for headlights so we will have to wait and see if this technology ever hits stateside.