It’s a familiar experience — it’s late at night and you’re driving along a dark, curvy road. You take a turn around a corner and all of a sudden an oncoming car practically blinds you with its high beam lights.
Thanks to the help of LEDs, that problem could soon be eradicated entirely. LEDs are quietly heading up a revolution in the automotive industry, leading to new vehicle designs and providing enhanced nighttime vision and safety for drivers.
There’s no mistaking the glow of an LED headlamp in the newer automotive models, especially in comparison to the yellow tinge of their older counterparts. LEDs are even serving as identifiers and differentiators between different makes and models.
For instance, there’s no mistaking the distinct shape of Audi headlights:
Or the four circles on BMW models:
Because they are smaller, run cooler and use less energy than traditional light bulbs and standard automotive headlamps, LEDs are catching on in the automotive industry — much like they are gaining popularity in commercial and residential uses.
But these LEDs aren’t just for looks and show.
For instance, when combined with cameras, these “smart” headlights are more than just a standard set of high beams and low beams. Instead, they can continuously alter light patterns to adjust to the immediate road and weather conditions. The system is so good at not shining light on vehicles traveling ahead of it that the high beam can remain on and adjust itself, even if eight cars are in front — giving nighttime drivers a better, safer experience.
If Americans are looking to reap the benefits of this sort of smart technology, they may have to wait a few years. Unfortunately, all cars sold in the United States must adhere to a specific light pattern, so all models are fitted with standard headlights.
Automakers are even projecting that a time will come when headlights will be able to project patterns like a foot path on the road to help pedestrians cross the street, or even lines to the left and right of the vehicle as it passes through a construction zone to avoid any hazards.
But until then, we can look in awe at the European cars and their “smart” headlights.