RAC Cars News


Mercedes-Benz reveals new lighting tech

By raccars Published

Mercedes Benz F 015

The new Mercedes-Benz digital lights can project signs and symbols onto roads to enhance safety.

Mercedes-Benz has revealed its new advanced headlight technology which should feature in models of the future. The digital lights can project illuminated symbols, including guiding paths, stop signs and zebra crossings, onto roads.

The Digital Light system is believed to include a comprehensive list of features and uses HD projection technology. Each headlight has over a million so-called micromirrors. The technology was first unveiled on the Mercedes-Benz F015 research vehicle and makes use of radar and cameras, together with Mercedes-Benz-developed algorithms. The autonomous FO15 concept was revealed in 2015.

The combination of radar sensors and cameras means that the new headlights can pick out other road users, adapting their light distribution according to the environment. The Digital Light system combines sensitive control software and new projector technology to aid in the identification of other road users and to allow the lights to selectively reduce beam intensity to prevent dazzling.

Mercedes-Benz aims to be a shining light

Gunter Fischer, Daimler’s head of vehicle operating systems and exterior body development, said that the aim was to achieve maximum brightness and optimum vision without glare rather than aiming for ‘beam records’.

He claims that the new functions support drivers and communication between road users in order to ‘significantly’ boost safety during night-time driving. The technological processes and digital intelligence, which first featured on the Mercedes-Benz F015 research car, mean that high-resolution images can be projected onto road surfaces. If the car’s sensors identify pedestrians waiting at the roadside, for example, the vehicle’s headlights can position a projected zebra crossing on the road, signalling to the pedestrians that it is safe for them to cross.

Mercedes-Benz claims that other illuminated symbols are also likely to be offered with Digital Light production versions. These include guiding paths, distance guides, ice warnings and stop signs.

Thousands of LEDs

The new system builds upon the brand’s Multi Beam technology which Mercedes-Benz already offers on a number of its models. The new Digital Light headlights, however, have four light points and each of these has 1,024 LED chips. This means that each vehicle will boast 8,192 LEDS.

The radar sensors and cameras combine to allow the brightness value of the pixels created by the technology’s micromirrors to be altered according to the environment. This should allow for real-time, seamless alterations in the light direction and brightness of the beams emitted.

Digital Light offers an alternative to the type of laser light technology which is being offered by BMW and Audi. Instead, Mercedes-Benz is claiming that its new technology can offer greater benefits. Fischer said that it was the ‘digital intelligence’ that underpins the headlight technology that acts as ‘the decisive factor’ in improving safety for night-time drivers and a range of other road users.

The Digital Light system also works alongside the car’s satellite navigation system, meaning that it can make use of the micromirror pixels to project pin sharp images such as directions and turn-off warnings, although its primary function will be to increase safety.

The lights will project a warning onto the road if the car gets too near to the vehicle in front and on narrow streets or paths the system can project two bars onto the surface of the road to represent the width of the car. These are just some of the projections that are designed to be used in a wide variety of different environments and scenarios.

There are growing complaints about the incidental glare from high intensity discharge (HID) lamp technologies. Even when driving on dipped beam, owners of vehicles equipped with these systems will be only too familiar with routine protest flashes from other motorists, so further advances in the technology will no doubt be welcomed.

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