Daimler bends headlamp beams with smart pixels
Modern headlamps are much brighter and whiter than in the past, but sometimes brighter isn't necessarily better. Although blinding beams are useful on a deserted backroad, they can dazzle other drivers around town. In an attempt to solve the problem, Daimler has developed a new smart pixel system, able to more precisely mold its beam than existing adaptive headlights.
Although current adaptive high-beam systems work reasonably well, their effectiveness is limited by packaging constraints. When sensors detect another car and driver that's about to be dazzled, they turn off (or dim) individual lighting units within the headlight array to create a gap in the beam.
That means that, along with the LED units themselves, the headlamp needs to house extra electrical components to operate the adaptive beam. With so little space to work with at the front of cars, this limits the number of individual LEDs that can be packed in, which in turn limits the overall brightness of the car's headlights.
Smart pixel headlamps work around this by packing 1,024 individual, controllable pixels into one "chip." Along with the little pixels, each chip includes all the hardware to control them, making them more space efficient than the current standard.
Along with their space efficiency, and because the smart pixel LEDs have so many individually-adjustable light outputs, their beam can be controlled much more precisely. That means better molding of the dark spot around oncoming cars, and the ability to mimic mechanical "corner lighting" systems, which can illuminate the inside of a bend by turning the headlights with motors.
At the moment this technology is in its infancy, but Daimler and partners are currently working to get it ready for future series production.