The Adaptive Main Beam Assist system from Mercedes-Benz already adjusts the range of the headlamps automatically to the distance from oncoming vehicles or vehicles travelling ahead with their lights on. The further development known as IHC+ is an adaptive main beam which automatically cuts out other traffic. At the same time potential hazards are specifically lit up by a marker light.
Mercedes-Benz achieved a first in the lighting technology sector when it introduced Adaptive Main Beam Assist in 2009. This innovation is currently available for the E and S-Class, and will also be available in conjunction with the new, dynamic full-LED headlamps during the course of this year. The basic principle behind Adaptive Main Beam Assist: when the system recognises oncoming traffic or vehicles travelling ahead, it continuously adapts the beam range to the distance, so that the cone of light ends before it reaches them.
IHC+ (Intelligent Headlight Control+) goes a step further. It enables the driver to keep the main beams on all the time. When the system recognises oncoming traffic or vehicles travelling ahead with the help of a camera, it automatically adjusts the light distribution to suit. In these traffic situations it is no longer the beam range of the headlamps that is adjusted. Instead the oncoming or preceding vehicle is cut out with the help of a shutter in the headlamp. The beam of light still falls to the left and right of the vehicle in question, considerably increasing the field of vision. This enables obstacles and hazards to be recognised at an early stage – an important contribution to active safety.
The light distribution can also be refined in the opposite direction: if the infrared camera of Night View Assist detects e.g. deer or pedestrians in the road ahead, 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 without having to take his eyes off the traffic situation.
IHC+ and the hazard identification spotlight will soon enter series production at Mercedes-Benz on the basis of xenon, with electro-mechanical adjustment of the light distribution. The next step will then be to realise this function with LED technology as well: at first likewise with an electro-mechanical shutter, and in the slightly longer future purely electronically, by specific activation of individual LEDs.
The Mercedes-Benz "ESF 2009" Experimental Safety Vehicle shows precisely how this can be done: a headlamp is made up of around 100 LEDs. These semiconductor elements can be individually activated, so that in the case of oncoming traffic, for example, only the area in front of the vehicle can be accurately obscured in which other road users are located. Conversely, potential hazards are lit up by individual LEDs forming the hazard identification spotlight.
These examples show that LED technology has great potential in the future, and a large number of new developments in lighting technology by Mercedes-Benz are to be expected. At the same time the brand will remain true to its strategy, concentrating only on innovations that actually offer the customer added value.