Smart headlights to improve night driving

Ford of Europe is testing new high-resolution headlight technology that could improve safety when driving at night. These headlights would project important road information into the driver’s field of vision.

The night kills more than the day. The risk of having a fatal accident at dusk is also seven times higher than the daytime risk and a quarter of fatal accidents at night occur between 2 and 6 am according to Road Safety.

Manufacturers and OEMs have improved the performance of headlights. The headlight system of some Mercedes models uses cameras and radars to detect other cars and pedestrians on the road. The on-board computer analyzes the data collected to decide on the adjustment of the headlights and not to dazzle drivers or cyclists.

But the ultimate goal is to limit accidents by providing accurate information on the road. In the same way that a head-up display projects useful information onto the windshield in front of the driver, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road, Ford’s new headlight technology can “project” all types of road information: weather data, speed limits, navigation instructions, etc.

Apart from the fact that it provides additional comfort, this technology aims to make driving safer. These new headlights could indeed help protect pedestrians from oncoming vehicles by projecting a crosswalk where there is none, or by guiding the driver when overtaking a cyclist.

These headlights could project different information on our route, such as warning us of an upcoming roundabout. Copyright: Ford

Ford isn’t the first automaker to experiment with shaped projection headlights. In 2018, Mercedes presented its LED Digital Light headlights integrated into its luxury sedan, the Maybach S-Class. Inspired by video projector technology found in the living rooms of home cinema enthusiasts, they are able to project warning symbols on road surface.

Ford goes further by indicating that its technology could also be used to warn drivers of the presence of snow, fog or ice. The automaker has also suggested it could connect the headlights to the navigation system to indicate upcoming turns, like a more advanced version of augmented reality navigation available in some Mercedes-Benz models.

Finally, good news for anyone dreading parking spaces, Ford’s headlights could project the length of the vehicle to determine if there is enough space to park.

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