Ford Motor Co. researchers have developed a vehicle lighting system that widens the headlight beam at junctions and roundabouts to illuminate pedestrians, cyclists, or animals that are not in the direction of travel.
The technology builds on Ford’s adaptive front lighting system that adjusts the headlight beam angle and intensity to one of seven settings depending on the vehicle’s speed, steering angle, and distance to an object. The automaker also recently offered traffic sign recognition technology, which identifies traffic signs and then displays them on the instrument panel.
“Camera-based advanced front lighting can help make it easier for the driver to travel at night in unfamiliar surroundings, and to more easily see unexpected hazards,” says Michael Koherr, research engineer of lighting systems for Ford of Europe. “At roundabouts, for example, our system helps the driver to clearly see the exits — and check if cyclists and pedestrians are crossing the road.”
The new technology uses the car’s GPS information to better illuminate bends and dips on the route. It uses a forward-facing video camera mounted in the rear-view mirror base to detect lane markings and predict the road’s curvature.
The spot lighting technology uses an infra-red camera in the front grille to locate and track up to eight people and bigger animals from up to nearly 400 feet away. The hazards are then displayed on the screen inside the car, marked in a red or yellow frame.
The technologies are in the pre-development phase with Ford engineers in Aachen, Germany and are expected to be available for customers in the near future.