NHTSA Is Working on a Set of Testing Requirements to Measure and Regulate Adaptive Headlight Technology

Image: Audi

The NHTSA, following its announcement in February, is working on creating a set of criteria to test and regulate adaptive headlight technology. Engadget has been following up with automakers who are awaiting the final word so they can begin selling cars featuring Adaptive driving beam headlight systems, or ADB.

“While adaptive headlights have been approved, the testing requirements for approval put forth by NHTSA is still under discussion,” an Audi representative told Engadget. “Because of this, [I’m] afraid we are still not able to offer the matrix functionality in the US at this time and continue to work with regulators to bring this safety relevant function to market.”

From the NHTSA February Press Release:

“Adaptive driving beam headlight systems, or ADB, use automatic headlight beam switching technology to shine less light on occupied areas of the road and more light on unoccupied areas. The adaptive beam is particularly useful for distance illumination of pedestrians, animals, and objects without reducing the visibility of drivers in other vehicles.

The final rule amends Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, “Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment.” The amendments adopted today are intended to allow manufacturers to offer this technology and establish performance requirements for these systems to ensure that they operate safely.”

Even though the rule has been amended to allow the new technology testing methods must be created for regulation as automakers each have their own types of ADB. From Audi, Ford, Mercedes, and Toyota/Lexus, there are numerous approaches to incorporating ADB technology which explains why the NHTSA is working on testing and regulation for ADB.

Different types ADB

Currently, these technologies are already in use outside of the United States.

  • Audi has Digital matrix LED headlights that use an array of LEDs in a grid pattern and are granularly controlled via a DMD (digital micromirror device) similar to technology used in projectors.
  • Ford has a high-resolution Adaptive Front Lighting System that can project road hazard warnings, speed limits, and navigation cues, right onto the road itself. The beams can even “bend” around corners in order to penetrate weather conditions such as fog and rain.
  • Mercedes has its own Digital Light system that incorporates three LEDs into each headlamp and is reflected by a small array comprised of 1.3 million micromirrors. It is controlled by a graphics processor to precisely bend and attenuate the beams.
  • Lexus uses Blade Scan HD headlights that feature 24 LEDs per headlight which are reflected by a set of rapidly rotating mirrors that aim the light through a lens onto the road. Lexus says the system provides accuracy within 0.7 degrees and can detect people from 184 feet ahead.

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Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

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