Mercedes-Benz has revealed the next step in adaptive forward lighting with its new smart pixel LED headlamps, a project developed in collaboration with Osram, Fraunhofer, Hella and Infineon. The project, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), has now been completed after three and a half years with the production and field test of headlamp demonstrators.

The headlamps feature three LED chips, each with 1,024 individually controllable light points that allow precise illumination at all times. In the current generation of adaptive headlights available, the LED components are installed in the headlights side by side and on top of each other, like the Multibeam LED lights found on the E-Class, which feature 84 individual LEDs arranged in three rows

These require additional electronic components to switch the light segments on and off, and the number of segments is limited due to the restricted space in the headlight. With the new tech, electronic activation of the LED is integrated in the chip, resulting in a much higher resolution, while still meeting limited space requirements.

New sensors are also part of the lighting system, making the headlamps smarter as well. For instance, the higher number of light points allows the sides of the road to be illuminated so there are no dark peripheral areas in the driver’s vision. The headlamps are also able to point out oncoming traffic, without dazzling the drivers in front of the vehicle.

While some of these features may already be available today, the new headlamp technology offers an enhanced performance with a more precise adjustment thanks to the higher resolution, allowing it to better adapt to the current traffic situation to provide the best illumination at all times without dazzling other drivers.

“We now want to develop this new type of high resolution LED light sources so that it’s ready for serial production and we see enormous potential for its use in headlights,” said Stefan Kampmann, chief technology officer at OSRAM Licht AG.