An ignorant driver, who doesn’t care to lower their headlights at night, can be extremely irritating while travelling. It causes much inconvenience to drivers in the vehicles travelling in the opposite direction, and at times it has been the cause for accidents. Nevertheless, this will see an end very soon, at least in US for now, with the little-noted regulation published by the Government to allow cars in US to have headlights that can intelligently adapt the beam of light, without any involvement of the driver. This, indeed, will be a great leap forward, towards future!

Smart headlights

Unlike those gadgets that claim to be ‘smart’ even though all what is ‘smart’ about them is just being connected with other devices via internet, the smart headlights are genuinely smart. Officially called as adaptive beam headlights, the smart headlights are able to adjust both the brightness and well as the beam shape. They rely on one or multiple cameras that observe the road ahead and position the oncoming cars. The system adjusts the headlight accordingly to prevent blinding the driver in the oncoming vehicle. This process is carried out real time as the car changes its position and the road. Some ‘smarter’ headlights are reported be able to detect the pedestrians and animals on the sides of the road as well and highlight them.

The technology isn’t all new

Frankly, the technology of smart headlights is not something brand new and extra-ordinary. The technology, in fact, has been there in the world since a few years. It wasn’t adapted by the car-making companies that embraced it fully, until now. Still, there are some brands and models that have installed some kind of adaptive headlights.

With these new regulations out in US now, the adaptive headlights will see an accelerating rate of advancement and profit as many major companies are going to instil the technology in their newly releasing models. This featutre would be costly because it demands newer technology and specially designed hardware. Audi says that it will need “a million digital micro-mirrors moving at 5 KHz” to produce one smart headlight.

Reviewers believe that this step is just the beginning and sooner there will smart headlights that will utilise augmented reality also. Even by now, some car-making companies are infusing microarrays of light emitters that can enable to display graphical indications on the road for navigation, pedestrian accommodation, and speed limit indication and so on. Therefore, we are to have our fingers crossed for the marvels that are yet be unveiled!

Impact on driver behaviour

Many have predicted that this new adaptive headlights will have an impact on the behaviour of the drivers on roads, especially at night. Some, light signals that the drivers are informally used to pass to the other, will not be able to be done with the smart headlights as they adjust the light to match the condition of the road and the circumstance.

“A number of driving customs may change with this tech, like the courteous high beam dip you (hopefully) do when you see an oncoming car. And the old trick of looking at your right-hand lane line while an oncoming car is blinding you may become a lost skill,” says Brian Cooley CNET’s Editor at-large.

By Induwara Athapattu