This tech will light up your life.

Mercedes-Benz is showing off the next innovation in adaptive headlights with its new smart-pixel LEDs. Where the brand’s current Multibeam lights use 84 individually controllable LEDs, the new tech shrinks the figure down to just three but each one has 1,024 configurable points of light. The result is even more precise adjustment to the road ahead.

Beyond just being more adaptable, new sensors make the smart-pixel lights smarter, too. When taking a corner, the LEDs illuminate the side of the road, so that the driver knows about any potential hazards. They also point out oncoming vehicles but adjust so that the light doesn’t get in other motorists’ eyes. In addition, the system can elongate the lights’ range as speeds increase, which extends the forward visibility of the person behind the wheel.

Mercedes-Benz smart-pixel LEDs

Headlight supplier Osram led the three-and-a-half-year-long project, and Daimler, Fraunhofer, Hella, and Infineon partnered in the tech’s development. Mercedes has already tested the system in field trials on the road and has started considering how to incorporate it into production vehicles.

Unfortunately, current regulations in the United States mean that drivers there can’t experience this lighting innovation when it does come to market. The nation's rules stipulate that drivers must be able to switch between high- and low-beams and mandates the pattern of the light. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also questions the safety of these systems by citing the increase in rear-end crashes after the introduction of LED taillights. This statute already prevents tech like Audi’s Adaptive Driving Beam headlights from being available there.

Two recent studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety find that modern headlights, including some LEDs, aren’t up to snuff. The agency claimed that NHTSA’s rules allowed for far too much variation from different models’ level of illumination. As a way to push for an improvement, the IIHS made a Good or Acceptable headlight rating part of the criteria for earning a Top Safety Pick+ award starting with 2017 model year vehicles.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

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