The car has been through many changes in structure, design and production in its 150 years. However, its headlights have remained relatively unchanged and untouched by technology.
This is worrying as visibility for a driver could be the game-changer between avoiding a collision and causing serious harm. The average time for a driver to decide upon and react to possible hazards is 2.3 seconds. At night, this time increases because of lower visibility levels.
Ford may have the answer. The multinational car company has been developing an Advanced Front Lighting System, which utilizes infrared camera, GPS tracking and sign recognition to dodge danger at night. By picking up heat signals from people or animals on the road, a brighter ray of moveable spotlight shines through the standard beam of the headlights to alert the driver to potential risks. The driver can also see passing pedestrians that may not be visible through the darkness via an in-car screen.
“You gain up to 2 or 3 seconds to react to these objects,” Ford Research Engineer Michael Koherr says in the video below from Ford Europe. “It means you can brake, steer or do both, to avoid an accident.”
This type of technology isn’t new to the motor industry. Audi already has its Matrix LED system in its cars, whereby headlights safely detect oncoming vehicles and adjust light brightness to avoid blinding other drivers. The European branch of General Motors Company is also developing headlights for its cars that can detect and track the eye movements of the driver to shine a light specifically at wherever they are looking.
Although the technology shown in this video is a prototype and not currently a feature in any of Ford’s commercially available vehicles, the car company is developing such technology for future products.
[H/T: Popular Science]