Mercedes-Benz has come up with the latest in lighting technology, Digital Light, which aims to further improve the quality of headlamp illumination. In this configuration, a high definition headlamp chip contains more than one million micromirrors for each side of the vehicle.
This enables highly precise distribution of light, in order to “provide ideal, high-resolution light distribution which suits the surrounding conditions perfectly,” according to Mercedes-Benz. “The decisive factor is not the technology in the headlamp but the digital intelligence behind it,” said Gunter Fischer, head of exterior body development and vehicle operating systems at Daimler AG.
The HD headlamp chip and micromirrors work together with Mercedes-Benz’s current suite of cameras and radars to identify other road users in its vicinity, and to avoid dazzling them. Powerful, adaptive headlights which are capable of such functions have already reached series production, with the likes of Audi’s and BMW’s laser headlamps.
In the case of Mercedes-Benz, its aim is not only to aim for beam records, but to also “achieve optimum vision and maximum brightness without glare.” In addition to that, Digital Light will be Mercedes-Benz’s means of projecting visual information on to the road surface, which has benefits for both the driver of the vehicle thus equipped, and for the surrounding road users.
Digital Light aims to provide targeted guidance and support for the driver, for instance projecting light traces to replace missing road markings, warning signs, direction arrows and guiding the driver through narrow roadworks. For other road users, it could project symbols, such as a zebra crossing when it is safe for them to cross in front of the vehicle.
Early prototypes of the Digital Light headlamp setups have already been installed in demonstrator vehicles, and were driven in public last month during night-time journeys. The lighting technology is quite close to production reality, and is being developed as two distinct hardware systems.
The second of these is a compact, highly efficient system from joint research project µAFS, with four light points, each with 1,024 individually actuatable LED chips, per headlamp, and is said to arrive in Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the foreseeable future.