The Digital Light tech optimizes beams without blinding other traffic, but gigantic snowflakes on the road could be distracting.
We already know the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class is about as razzle-dazzle as they come for luxury transportation. The new headlights, however, will not dazzle other drivers, but that’s exactly what these digital eyes are designed to do. The new headlamp technology is called Digital Light, and though they are designed to deliver exceptional visibility without blinding oncoming traffic, they can “dazzle” Maybach drivers by projecting a set of specific alert pictures on the road in front.
How does it all work? Each light has a chip with over a million micro-reflectors, meaning more than two million reflectors are available. The lights are tied into the car’s various sensors and cameras as well as the navigation system, and they can automatically adjust depending on conditions and known location. That’s how the anti-dazzle part comes into play, as the car can detect oncoming traffic and dial down some of those two-million reflectors for maximum visibility without blinding other drivers.
The other part of the new Digital Light system is the series of symbols that can be projected onto the road in front of the car. Depending on which safety and driver-assist systems are engaged, the headlights will automatically project alerts onto the roadway. For example, solid guide lines marking boundaries of a narrow road – such as one might find in a construction zone – can appear to help guide the way. If the car detects pedestrians in a danger zone near the road, an arrow indicating their location will appear.
It can also display warnings for speed, drifting out of the lane, construction zones, objects in blind spots, distance to other traffic, and yes, a snowflake will even appear in low-grip situations. We have no idea if it would even show up on a snow-covered road, but hopefully by that point drivers already know it’s a bit slick and slow down.
The new Digital Light system is slated to arrive with “selected fleet customers” in the first half of 2018. However, there is a footnote at the end of the Mercedes-Maybach press release (link is below) that talks about the need for new technologies to comply with laws of various countries, and that it’s being reviewed for approval. Considering this system can display actual symbols on the road, there’s certainly an argument to be made for it being distracting to other drivers.
Gallery: Mercedes-Maybach Digital Light
World premiere in the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class: DIGITAL LIGHT: the light of the future hits the road
Stuttgart/Geneva. The future of car light should start soon for selected Mercedes-Maybach customers: the revolutionary headlamp technology DIGITAL LIGHT with virtually dazzle-free main beam in HD quality and a resolution of more than two million pixels should be entering small series production in the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. DIGITAL LIGHT is celebrating its world premiere in the updated top model from Mercedes-Maybach at the Geneva Motor Show. Selected fleet customers are expected to take delivery of the first vehicles equipped with it in the first half of 2018.
”With a resolution of over one million pixels per headlamp, DIGITAL LIGHT not only creates ideal light conditions for every driving situation; it also extends the visual support from our driving assistance systems”, says Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
The revolutionary DIGITAL LIGHT headlamp technology with outstanding performance facilitates pioneering driving assistance and communication with the driver and can create the ideal light conditions in every driving situation. DIGITAL LIGHT offers even higher precision than the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps, minimising the risk of other road users being dazzled. DIGITAL LIGHT delivers an important contribution towards improving safety in road traffic - as an integral part of the overall INTELLIGENT DRIVE strategy.
In the new HD-quality headlamp there is a chip at work with over a million micro-reflectors, i.e. a total of over two million per vehicle. Cameras and sensor systems in the vehicle detect other road users, powerful computers evaluate the data plus digital navigation maps in milliseconds and give the headlamps the commands for best possible adaption of the light distribution in all situations.
High Definition headlamps with innovative features
With the innovative software-controlled DIGITAL LIGHT technology symbols can also be projected onto the road in HD quality. This not only gives the driver information directly in their field of vision: in a second step it could also make communication with the surroundings possible.
An overview of the DIGITAL LIGHT functions:
When driving through a construction site, two trails of light corresponding to the entire width of the car are projected onto the driver's own lane. These guide lines help the driver with orientation.
Extended pedestrian mark
If a pedestrian is detected in the danger zone near the road, an arrow pointing towards them appears on the road surface. This is in addition to the mark already made by the Adaptive Highbeam Assist.
The car with DIGITAL LIGHT technology can also warn the driver about certain dangers and give relevant information on the road. For example if the car is in danger of leaving its lane and entering the oncoming traffic, a lane-keeping symbol is projected onto the road.
The following symbols are available as small series production starts:
- Low-grip surface symbol
- Construction-site symbol
- Rear-end collision symbol
- Lane-keeping symbol
- Blind-spot symbol
- Speed symbol.
 New technologies must always comply with the applicable legal framework conditions of the country of commercialisation and must therefore be adapted to them. The capability for approval is currently being reviewed.