Even with less available resources, China, the EU, and Canada are much more progressive when designing headlights. As we pointed out earlier, the main issue is old headlight regulations stating that cars sold in the United States abide by a law that says low and high beam headlights cannot operate simultaneously. We bring this up in the presence of new and advanced lighting tech from Audi, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche. The situation is getting worse mainly due to units sold overseas and in neighboring Canada. A technology called (ADB) headlights which stand for adaptive driving beam. This is just a small taste of what’s to come.
ADB shadows your vehicle’s lights from blinding oncoming drivers while still lighting your side of the road entirely. Many luxury brands now pair the LEDs with a laser-assisted high beam that can stretch nearly half a mile in the EU. Audi’s ADB LEDs work a lot like the pixels of a smart TV rather than lights. They individually funnel the LED’s photons to 1.3 million micromirrors, each of which can adjust up to 5000 times per second, continually adapting to brighten parts of the field of view while shading others.
Audi’s and competing systems offered by other brands also shorten the low beam’s reach on multilane highways. So, as you approach a truck, the LEDs will block it out and wrap the light around it. Audi’s system, like Lexus’s, can also detect pedestrians with digital matrix LED lighting. In the future, it will use the tech to display signage to drivers and likely include that information in HUD displays, too.
Outlook On Old Headlight Regulations
Sadly, the outlook for all of this is grim. Audi’s experiments were done through temporary FCC licensed contractors like Qualcomm, not through the NHTSA. You probably already heard that laser headlights have come in a limited and expensive fashion to American roads. Lasers are adopted carefully because they often emit radiation.
The Automotive Alliance cautioned both in this past that NHTSA’s regulations for advanced lighting were overly strict and not based on modern systems. That last part is vital; NHTSA has been looking backward at headlight technology invented in the previous century. Modern ADB systems can shield oncoming drivers from excessive light. They also allow drivers and pedestrians to better see the vehicle and augment what we see with better information. We hope that these advances don’t happen all over the rest of the globe while forever leaving American drivers blinded by oncoming traffic.