June 3, 2008 Audi will offer the Gentex SmartBeam system as an option on the A4, A5 and Q7 models, to be released this spring. The SmartBeam High-Beam Headlamp Assist system, or “Fernlichtassistent”, uses a miniature camera to automate a vehicle’s high beams at night.
At 50 mph, a minimal total lamp intensity of 75,000 cd is needed to safely illuminate the driver’s forward view, but many drivers refrain from using their high beams due to a combination of complacency, forgetfulness, and a fear of blinding oncoming drivers. The SmartBeam provides a solution by automating this process.
The system uses a CMOS “camera-on-a-chip” image sensor to gather data from as far as 2000 feet in front of the vehicle. The images are processed to determine the intensity, color, position and movement of various light sources, turning the beams down if a car is oncoming, and back on again when the road is clear. SmartBeam fades the high beams on and off when possible, but can adjust them immediately if traffic suddenly appears around the turn of a corner or below the crest of a hill.
SmartBeam is integrated into Gentex auto-dimming mirrors, which automatically darken to reduce glare from the headlamps of vehicles approaching from the rear.
"Research conducted with drivers in Europe and North America shows a very positive response to SmartBeam and we are very pleased that Audi is offering this active safety technology product on several of its best-selling vehicles,” said Enoch Jen, senior vice president of Michigan based Gentex.