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Let the car lights "speak", the next interactive entrance for cars?

Let the car lights speak, the next interactive entrance for cars? 1

Abstract: The most "unobtrusive" feature on a car is realizing its huge potential.

In the next ten years, the whole world has high hopes for the automotive industry.

With the improvement of urban infrastructure, the Internet of Vehicles and electrification, and the implementation of self-driving cars, the way people use and interact with cars is undergoing radical changes.

The automobile has undergone many transformations during its 130-year history. One of the most fascinating areas in the development process is the innovation of automotive lighting. It is not only the "eyes" of a car, but sometimes it is even a key element in determining the character, recognition and other characteristics of the car.

But nowadays, despite the continuous emergence of forward-thinking thinking in the automotive industry, many practitioners believe that the "golden age" of automotive lighting innovation has passed.

Some practitioners even believe that "car headlights are becoming boring." Under the trend of intelligence, ADAS and other intelligent driving functions known as "black technology" and a series of intelligent software have been added, and the development of car lights is somewhat "bleak." "Eclipsed", people began to no longer pay too much attention to the development of car lights.

In fact, car lights have always followed the development of the lighting technology industry. Flexible and efficient LEDs replace traditional light sources such as halogen bulbs, and adaptive headlight systems that can adjust lighting modes according to environmental conditions and bring anti-dazzle and other functions have become the mainstream development path of the current automotive lighting industry. .

Recently a new lighting technology is spreading - digital projection lighting technology. It brings car lighting into a new round of interactive technology revolution.

Lights that “talk”

Digital projection lighting technology simply turns every headlight into a "high-definition projector." It provides better illumination, finer regional resolution and displays additional guidance information for the driver.

This is a new task for the lighting system, and it also gives the light the ability to "speak". It can provide a good sense of interaction with people inside or outside the car.

In addition to basic functions such as anti-glare, high-resolution lights are bringing new functions to assist driving. For example, the vehicle width display function can inform the driver of the width of the vehicle ahead when the vehicle is passing through a construction section. The lights will display two lines of light on the ground equivalent to the width of the vehicle, helping the driver evaluate the driving route and passing ability.

Let the car lights speak, the next interactive entrance for cars? 2

Car width display function brought by car lights | Mercedes-Benz official website

If there is an unexpected risk in the driver's own lane, an optical warning (arrow) is also displayed on the road. For example, on icy and snowy roads at night, when braking distance is insufficient or speeding, warnings will also be projected directly in front of the vehicle.

Let the car lights speak, the next interactive entrance for cars? 3

Car lights can project various signs to remind the driver | Mercedes-Benz official website

The purpose of projection near the driver's line of sight is to effectively warn the driver so that they are not distracted by reminders elsewhere. During real testing by nighttime traffic testers, it was more visible than the same warning message on a heads-up display. be perceived.

In fact, these functions are automatically activated after vehicle sensors analyze the driving situation.

For the past six years, one company in the automotive industry that has been obsessed with this technology is Daimler. Daimler's automotive lighting division and Texas Instruments' development division are jointly developing high-resolution headlight technology, including "digital mirror device" technology (DMD) and "digital light processing" technology (DLP).

For example, in the high-definition headlight pictured above, each chip has more than one million micro-reflectors, which means that each car's light can achieve a resolution of more than 2 million pixels. At the same time, when the camera and sensor systems in the vehicle detect other road users (passers-by, road vehicles, etc.), the core processor can evaluate the data and the digital navigation map in milliseconds to provide commands for the headlights to operate in all situations. optimally adapts to the light distribution.

In October 2018, foreign media reported that Volkswagen was also experimenting with using headlights and taillights to project traffic information around the car onto the road. Volkswagen mentioned in a press release that it is working on a new lighting system to be able to communicate with other drivers.

Let the car lights speak, the next interactive entrance for cars? 4

Volkswagen’s smart lighting experiment | Source network

Redefining "automotive lighting"

“The decisive factor is not the technology in the headlights, but the ‘digital intelligence’ behind it. We hope to achieve the best vision and maximum brightness without glare, allowing drivers to communicate with other road users without glare. The impact of innovative functions can ultimately significantly optimize safety when driving at night," said Gunter Fischer, head of body development and vehicle operating systems at Daimler AG.

Of course, it is not difficult to achieve a cool demo demonstration. What is more important is whether this projection system with a micromirror matrix can be adapted to the automotive industry for mass production. All system components must meet mechanical, electronic, chemical, thermal and optical standards for automotive conditions and be designed to meet the automotive requirements. Close cooperation between all parties in the chain, from developers of microelectronic components to developers of lighting systems and car manufacturers, is a must for products to be ready for series production.

Therefore, taking into account the limited initial mass production scale and differentiated characteristics. Daimler was the first to introduce the new feature in its range-topping model, the Mercedes-Maybach, which has been on the road since mid-2018.

Recently, the domestic car brand WEY has also launched such a smart pixel headlight. This is also the first popular lighting technology in the world and the first in China. It is programmable, has millions of pixels, and improves nighttime driving safety through top-notch, luxurious lighting technology. WEY has tried more functions in terms of assisted driving functions and human-computer interaction functions, such as virtual instrument panel, speed limit sign recognition and projection, dynamic zebra crossing and other functions.

Let the car lights speak, the next interactive entrance for cars? 5

WEY smart pixel headlights | Officially provided by WEY

"High cost performance" is one of the important features of this headlight system. In terms of component selection and solution design, WEY has improved the overall optical efficiency and recognition algorithm accuracy, significantly reducing product costs while ensuring the optical performance of the entire light, making it possible to prepare products for mass production. While reducing product costs, it still retains the performance and competitiveness of the headlight system.

At the same time, smart pixel headlights are also WEY’s latest understanding of vehicle-road collaboration technology. It is based on Texas Instruments' innovative high-resolution DLP technology, providing more than 1 million addressable lighting pixels. It has also made a lot of technological innovations at the sensor and algorithm levels, and can combine complex road environments and detect pedestrians and vehicles on the road. Intelligent calculations are performed on the recognition of objects, and then the optical path is programmed and controlled accurately to the pixel level.

Let the car lights speak, the next interactive entrance for cars? 6

Pixel smart headlight system framework diagram | Officially provided by WEY

According to a survey report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is a huge difference in the frequency of traffic accidents during the day and at night. Nearly half of all traffic-related fatalities occur at night, despite only 25% of traffic volume. Therefore, the more important attribute of car lights is "safety".

The functional basis for meeting people's needs is the development of smart technology. In this regard, WEY conducted lighting experiments on the streets to allow people to experience the safety attributes brought by smart pixel headlights.

It’s not just technology trends that are driving the development of automotive lighting. The automotive industry’s concerns about regulations, safety and environmental impacts are also crucial influencing factors. Recently, the WEY brand also joined forces with the China International Automotive Lighting Forum (IFAL) to launch the "Automotive Lighting Safety Declaration" and announced that they will work together on the research and development of intelligent safety lighting technology and the application of lighting standards and specifications, and jointly lead the smart headlights in the Chinese automotive industry development and create a safer travel ecology for the majority of users.

Let the car lights speak, the next interactive entrance for cars? 7

"Car Lighting Safety Declaration" | Officially provided by WEY

Laser headlights are being developed, LED headlights and new use cases for OLED are coming to fruition as new lighting technologies are tested. Projector headlights may be the next headlight technology to become more popular. Although there are many uncertainties at present, the design of future passengers and drivers interacting with the car will open a new window of opportunity for automotive lighting.

People may want to know more, what new role will lights play in future self-driving cars?

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