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Nighttime journeys by car are about to become safer in future. Mercedes-Benz has developed an innovative system that automatically adapts headlamp range to the distance of vehicles ahead or to oncoming vehicles. This means car drivers will at all times benefit from optimum headlamp range to recognise other road users, pedestrians or danger spots more easily and more quickly. The adaptive high-beam assistant will be available from spring 2009.
Unlike conventional systems, which simply switch between dipped and main beam, the new Mercedes technology is adaptive, adjusting light yield in accordance with prevailing traffic situations. Dipped beam range can therefore be increased from around 65 meters to as much as 300 meters – without dazzling other road users. Should the system recognise oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead, it continuously adjusts headlamp range so that the headlamp cone falls in front of other road users. The high-beam assistant also takes steering angle into account, so that headlamps are dipped appropriately on tight corners. On empty and open roads, the system gently switches to high beam.
Practical tests have shown that the adaptive high-beam assistant significantly enhances the safety of motorists when driving in the dark. Despite oncoming traffic, pedestrian dummies positioned at the edge of the road were recognized at a distance of around 260 meters -- approximately 150 meters earlier than with conventional dipped beam lighting. The new Mercedes assistant therefore offers a more than two-fold safety bonus.
In addition, the system helps relieve the burden on car drivers: since it is no longer necessary to operate the lever on the steering column, full concentration can be given to driving. Once activated, the adaptive high-beam assistant will always automatically provide the optimum headlamp range.
According to the latest studies, the main beam is switched on for approximately just eight percent of journeys at night on average.
Every 40 milliseconds the headlamps receive new data for headlamp adjustment
The brand new Mercedes technology is based on a camera positioned on the inside of the front windscreen, which monitors the traffic situation in front of the car.
Thanks to an intelligent image processing algorithm, the camera can recognise other vehicles and determine their distance. The range of the bi-xenon headlamps can then be varied and continuously adapted to the distance of the car ahead or to oncoming vehicles. The system has lightning quick reaction times, transmitting new data to the headlamps every 40 milliseconds. The adaptive high-beam assistant functions at speeds above 55 km/h and is fully automatic as soon as the driver switches the rotary light switch to “Auto” and the multifunction control lever on the steering column to high beam.
Mercedes-Benz is to combine the new development with the Intelligent Light
System, which offers five different bi-xenon headlamp functions. These are geared to typical driving or weather conditions: country light mode (instead of the existing dipped beam mode), motorway mode, active light function, cornering light function and extended fog light mode.
As a result, Mercedes models from spring 2009 will benefit from the world’s most efficient headlamp technology.
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