Partial main beam: full beam ahead at all times
Whether as brake lights and indicators in many Mercedes models, or as daytime driving lights in the new E and S-Class, LED lighting technology is seeing increasing use at Mercedes-Benz. And things will be brightening up at night as well in future: Mercedes lighting specialists are working on an adaptive LED main beam system that automatically excludes oncoming traffic from the cone of light. A special spotlight function also allows potential hazards to receive additional illumination.
Main beam, low beam, main beam… anybody travelling on country roads in western Europe at night is seldom able to drive with the main beams on for very long. The frequency of oncoming traffic dictates that the driver is soon obliged to switch to low beam, either manually or more conveniently using the Main Beam Assist in the new Mercedes E-Class. This is not enough to satisfy the researchers at Mercedes-Benz, however. Because during the phases when the driver switches to low beam - with its shorter range - to avoid dazzling others, it is possible to overlook other road users or potential hazards.
The lighting specialists at Mercedes-Benz are therefore working on an LED-based adaptive main beam system. This enables the driver to leave the main beams switched on constantly. As soon as the system detects oncoming traffic with the help of a camera, it automatically adjusts the light distribution accordingly. The Mercedes ESF 2009 experimental safety vehicle shows precisely how this works. A headlamp is made up of 100 LEDs. These semiconductor elements can be indi-vidually activated, so that when there is oncoming traffic, the precise beam area in which other road users are located can be darkened down. The system recog-nises these using an infrared camera. The purely electronic module is also able to respond much faster than present electro-mechanical shutter/roller assemblies.
The light distribution can also be refined in the opposite direction: a special spotlight function in the LED array of the research vehicle also enables potential hazards to be highlighted. If the infrared camera detects pedestrians in the road ahead, for example, they can be briefly lit up beyond the normal main beam illumination, as if by an aimed spotlight. The driver is thus alerted to the potential danger.