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US-NHTSA Proposes the Use of Self-dimming Headlights

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【Summary】In a move that could end confusion surrounding the implementation of self-dimming headlights in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed the use of adaptive driving lights for vehicles, citing their benefits in promoting road safety.

Michael Cheng    Oct 20, 2018 7:00 AM PT
US-NHTSA Proposes the Use of Self-dimming Headlights

Self-dimming headlights provide an extra layer of safety for drivers and pedestrians. However, this type of automotive headlamp isn't available in the US at this time, due to regulatory issues surrounding the units. The LED matrix lights (another term for the lamps) are currently available in Europe.

In a move that could end confusion surrounding the implementation of self-dimming headlights in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed the use of adaptive driving lights for vehicles, citing their benefits in promoting road safety.

NHTSA Proposal

The proposal was published, requesting to amend Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) Number 108; Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment. At the moment, the NHTSA is processing feedback about the proposal. Submissions are being accepted by the government organization until December 11, 2018.

After that, the next step for the agency is to create official standards and requirements for self-dimming headlights. Although the proposal has not been finalized, the NHTSA seems to be fond of the technology, based on positive insights about LED matrix lights in the notice.

Interestingly, Toyota and Audi are behind the efforts to bring adaptive driving lights to the US. The automakers submitted a petition to revise the outdated guidelines (according to the proposal). The actions of both car manufacturers were highlighted in the notice.

"NHTSA has granted Toyota's petition and proposes to establish appropriate performance requirements to ensure the safe introduction of adaptive driving beam headlighting systems if equipped on newly manufactured vehicles," said the NHTSA in the proposal.

How Does it Work?

LED matrix lights utilize robust sensors to detect cars, pedestrians and other objects in the surrounding environment. When the headlights sense an oncoming vehicle or a person crossing the street, the lamp's beams that are aimed directly at the target object are dimmed or turned off, while the rest remain on.

When the lights are activated, they are in high-beam mode. This doesn't negatively affect visibility for individuals on the other side of the beam, as the sensors ensure minimal light trespass (glare).

LEDs are ideal for such applications, as the solid-state lights can be toggled rapidly without affecting performance and output. Furthermore, compared to other automotive lighting technologies, LEDs operate at cooler temperatures and come with long lifespans (over 50,000+ hours). Without loose filaments inside the lights, LEDs can withstand rough impacts without failing prematurely.

An example of an adaptive LED headlight is the Osram Eviyos. Showcased at CES 2018 earlier this year, the LED headlamps consist of 1,024 diodes that can be individually toggled. In a sample image provided by the lighting company, part of the headlights that would normally shine in people's eyes were turned off upon detection from the lamp's sensor. Such applications could improve safety for pedestrians, as well as other drivers on the road.  

According to the notice published by the NHTSA, the technology "has the potential to reduce the risk of crashes by increasing visibility without increasing glare. It offers potentially significant safety benefits in avoiding collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, animals and roadside objects."

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