Adaptive headlights: On the road to tomorrow

Increasing visibility around curves & over hills 

May 19th, 2017 | Innovation

Adaptive headlamp_1


Adaptive headlights is an active safety feature meant to make driving at night safer.  


How? Simply by increasing visibility around curves and over hill. The adaptive headlights rotate their beams according to the position of the steering wheel, contrary to the ordinary headlights which light up straight ahead and do not follow the trajectory of the vehicle (in curves, for example). This factor is the most dangerous because it affects the visibility of the driver by leaving in the dark the part of the road to which the car is heading for. Similarly, when a vehicle arrives at the top of a slope, the beams will not illuminate to the sky as usual and will allow the driver to see other road users arriving in front of him; in level which directs the headlights up or down depending on the position of the vehicle.



As mentioned earlier, adaptive headlights are essentially useful at night or when the external visibility is low. On the other hand, by adapting perfectly to the trajectory of vehicles, active headlights are widely appreciated by drivers on twisting and mountain roads because they avoid potentially dangerous situations such as an animal on the road, or blinding headlights for a motorist in the opposite direction at the end of the turn.



In general, the adaptive headlights are made up of several components managed by a control unit (ECU): 

  • Wheel sensors that detect the speed of rotation of each wheel 
  • A yaw rate sensor that controls the side-to-side movements of the vehicle 
  • A steering input sensor to control the angle of the steering wheel 
  • Small engines attached to the headlights  

Depending on the data recorded by the various sensors, the control unit determines the specific curve and angle to be adopted by the headlights (via the motors). Most systems also include an automatic leveling device. The latter includes a level sensor which transmits the inclination to the car's position (up or down slope position) and helps the front headlights to be adjusted. 



About 17,000 annual crash deaths happen in dark, dawn, dusk conditions, and human factors experiments have established a link between an improved lighting and detection performance. 


Regarding this, IIHS has developed a safety test and rating for headlamps.  The IIHS test is performed on the real equipment when the vehicle is ready to go and often result in a poor rating. Would it be possible to predict a poor rating during the early development phase of the headlamps, automotive OEM companies and tier-1 suppliers could have plenty of time to fix the potential issues earlier and increase the safety and hence the very value of the car. The car would be highly competitive thanks to its improved safety and would contribute to reducing the number of fatal car accidents. 


OEM companies and tier-1 suppliers need a tool to predict the result of the test and simulate  IIHS headlamp test and rating very early. With OPTIS's fully-automated IIHS headlamp test simulation, all vehicle parameters and complex adaptive parameters are considered, in use, recreating the exact behavior of the vehicle so that OEM companies and tier-1 suppliers can predict test result precisely and improve the headlamp's performance.  




Webinar – Never fail IIHS standards again 

Webinar -  Automotive Exterior Lighting 

Article – Full headlights on road lighting  

Video – Rear lamp 3D effect 


Photo Credit:©