October 20, 2008 We’ve all nearly been blinded and had to flash our high beams at oncoming drivers who have failed to dip their lights, but Mercedes-Benz' latest adaptive lighting innovation could help end of such dangerous incidents by taking driver error out of the equation. The newly developed high-beam assistant system uses a dash-mounted camera to automatically adapt headlamp range to the distance of other vehicles, meaning drivers will at all times benefit from optimum headlamp range by becoming aware of danger spots, pedestrians and other road users more easily and more quickly.
Should the system recognize oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead, it continuously adjusts headlamp range so that the light cone falls in front of other road users. Dipped beam range can therefore be increased from round 65 meters to as much as 300 meters – without dazzling other road users. The high-beam assistant also takes steering angle into account, so that headlamps are dipped appropriately on tight corners while on empty and open roads, the system gently switches to high beam. The technology uses a camera positioned on the inside of the front windscreen to monitor the traffic situation in front of the car. Thanks to an intelligent image-processing algorithm, the camera can recognize other vehicles and determine their distance. The range of the bi-xenon head-lamps can then be varied and continuously adapted to the distance of the car ahead or to oncoming vehicles based on data transmitted from the system to the headlamps every 40 milliseconds.
Mercedes claims practical tests have shown that the adaptive high-beam assistant significantly enhances the safety of motorists when driving in the dark by increasing the distance at which objects were recognized. Despite oncoming traffic, pedestrian dummies positioned at the edge of the road were recognized at a distance of around 260 meters -- approximately 150 metrers earlier than with conventional dipped beam lighting. The adaptive high-beam assistant functions at speeds above 55 km/h and is fully automatic, allowing drivers to give their full concentration to driving as it is no longer necessary to operate the lever on the steering column.
Mercedes-Benz is to combine the new development with the Intelligent Light System, which offers five different bi-xenon headlamp functions geared to typical driving or weather conditions: country light mode (instead of the existing dipped beam mode), motorway mode, active light function, cornering light function and extended fog light mode. The Intelligent Light System will be available in Mercedes-Benz models from spring 2009.