Cars Update – A Smarter LED Headlight, For Europe and the All-LED Mercedes

Mercedes new 2014 S-class features all LEDs

There has been a lot of activity surrounding autos and LEDs this May.  While manufacturers have been working on specific functionality like headlights, one manufacturer has totally eliminated incandescent from one of their models in favor of LEDs.

Europe is making strides with smarter headlights.  Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (FMER) just announced a new research project with Osram, Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration, Infineon, HELLA KGaA Hueck & Co. and Daimler.  The adaptive forward lighting system (AFS) project focuses on camera-controlled headlights that react to changing conditions such as objects like oncoming traffic, sidewalks, pedestrians and cyclists.  The project will integrate microelectronics and optoelectronics to develop a framework for a new class of energy-efficient LED headlights for traffic safety.

For example, the headlights in an AFS will feature high and low beams that can adapt to the speed of the vehicle. At high speeds, the range of light will automatically increase. In city conditions, the light will focus more broadly on sidewalks, pedestrians and cyclists. The AFS is completely electronic and will not rely on mechanical actuators.

Whether this type of technology will arrive in the US is already in question. Audi’s “matrix beam lighting” for headlights made its premier in 2011 in a concept car that included a camera that automatically detects nearby cars and pedestrians and reacts by dimming some of the bulbs for the high beam. But Audi already encountered a stop sign in the US.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulation, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108, states that headlights are not allowed to shine in a dynamic way.  Audi has since appealed to the NHTSA for an interpretation of the standard.  In the meantime, Audi offers a “high beam assistant” that just dims high beams for oncoming traffic for the US market.

Meanwhile, Mercedes Benz just announced that the new 2014 S-class models will feature all-LEDs for lighting – without an incandescent in sight. This makes Mercedes the first car manufacturer to go all-LED.  According to Mercedes, each car will use nearly 500 LEDs for the exterior and interior lighting.

For Further Reading

Automotive News, Audi’s next-gen LED headlights hit Washington speed bump,

LEDs Magazine, Osram leads research on LED-based adaptive headlamps for autos,, Mercedes S-Class Is the First Car without any Incandescent Light Bulbs,

LA Times, Mercedes-Benz unveils all-new 2014 S-Class,,0,3823865.story

Image Source: Mercedes 2014 S-class, Forbes,

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About Beth

It seems like LEDs are in everything these days – backlighting everything from your mobile phone, Apple iPad and flat screen HDTV to traffic lights, light bulbs and even the kitchen sink. But, making LEDs is a complex process that begins with the creation of sapphire. Not the pretty blue gemstone, but large commercial crystals that can weigh as much as 400 lbs. Once these large sapphire crystals are grown into boules and cooled, they’re cut into cores, cut further into flat circular wafers, polished and then used to grow LEDs. About 85 percent of HB-LEDs (high brightness) are grown on sapphire. There’s not that much information out there about the process. This blog is meant to shed some light (excuse the pun) on sapphire, LEDs and the industry that is devoted to making our lives just a little brighter. In the months ahead, we’ll tackle some topics that will help you understand a little more about sapphire and LED industry. Here’s a sample of what we’ll cover in the coming months: • Growing sapphire • For a wafer, size matters • Quality - When sapphire wafers go bad • LED light bulbs • Market & myths • Interviews with industry shining stars • Reports from industry events • Current events in perspective Please join us each week to learn more about sapphire and the LED market. We look forward to seeing you.

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