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Adaptive headlight  technology

Adaptive headlight  technology now legal in U.S.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved the use of adaptive headlight technology on February 15, 2022. The ruling amended the current federal regulations regarding headlights to allow for adaptive headlight technology.

Drivers have long complained that the current headlight technology doesn’t illuminate far enough down the road or to the sides. So they’ve been retrofitting their headlights with aftermarket Xenon H.I.D. kits or installing LED bulbs, both of which are illegal for on-road use when installed in headlight designed for a halogen bulb.

Adapative headlights — What are they?

Adaptive headlights use sensors, signal processors, and new headlight hardware to change how the headlights light up the road, other vehicles, object, pedestrians, etc. The technology has been legal in other countries and is now legal in the U.S..

Curve adaptive headlights

Curve-adaptive headlights pivot the light source (bulb or LED array) in the vehicle’s direction of travel. The bulbs are mounted on servo motors. When making a turn, the light source (bulb or LED array) inside the headlights pivot in the direction of your turn. The system uses the steering wheel angle sensor to detect the angle of your turn as well as light sensors to detect the curvature of the road.

Some higher-end system adapt the bulbs’ angle in direct relation to the vehicle’s speed to project light farther down the road as your speed increases.

Automatic high beams

In this iteration, the system automatically turns on your high beams to better illuminate the road. The system uses sensors to detect the headlights of oncoming traffic. If there are no oncoming vehicles, the system turn on the high beams until it senses oncoming traffic, at which point it automatically turns off the high beams.

Cornering lights

Cornering lights are auxiliary lights located next to or near the main headlights. The cornering lights automatically turn on when the driver makes a turn and then deactivate as the driver returns the steering wheel to the straight ahead position

Adaptive Driving Beams (ADB) are still illegal in the U.S.

Adaptive driving beams (ADB) technology eliminates the use of two separate bulbs for high and low beams. Instead, ADB technology uses multiple LED arrays, where the brightness of each LED array is controlled.

When the ADB sensors detect other cars’ headlights, the system dims only the LEDs, situated in the headlight to project farther down the road, So the system avoids blinding oncoming traffic. The other LEDs remain at full brightness and illuminate the road in front of the vehicle.

ADB can’t be used in the U.S. because regulation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 108 requires all vehicles sold in the U.S. to have distinct low beam and high beam patterns. Several automakers have petitioned the NHTSA to modify FMVSS 108 and allow ADB headlights

Adaptive Headlights Worth the cost?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) studies demonstrate that insurance claims are lower for vehicles equipped with adaptive headlights. However, the jury is still out as to whether the accident reduction is due to the adaptability feature or the headlight’s brighter bulbs. If you’re faced with a choice between adaptive headlights or automatic emergency braking (AEB),  AEB is a more worthwhile investment.

In addition to the acquisition cost of adapative headlights, keep in mind that they will be more expensive to repair. It’s not only the cost of the headlight, but the cost of the sensors, the controller, and re-calibration costs as well. Since the sensor are mounted in the bumper and windshield, a minor bumper impact or cracked windshield may require replacement and recalibration.

Which vehicles have Adaptive Headlights?

Porsche: Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS)
Chevrolet: Intellibeam
Genesis: Adaptive Cornering System (ACS)
Mazda: Adaptive LED Headlights (ALH)
Ford: Auto High-Beam Headlamps
Mercedes-Benz: Intelligent Light System
Subaru: Steering Responsive Headlights
Lexus: Adaptive Front Lighting System
Volkswagen: Dynamic Light Assist or Dynamic Cornering Light
Lincoln: Adaptive Pixel LED Lighting

©, 2022 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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