Ford shows camera-based lighting

Ford Motor Company is working on its own version smart lighting that will help make it less stressful - and safer - for drivers to travel after dark, especially on unlit or poorly-illuminated roads. Under development at the automaker's European Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany, this Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting and its supplemental Spot Lighting use Ford's existing Adaptive Front Lighting system and Traffic Sign Recognition technology to more easily identify all types of potential hazards, particularly those that may be lurking on the fringes of a roadway.

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Expected to see production in the near future, Ford's Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting relies on a forward-facing video camera mounted in the rearview mirror to see what lies ahead. It reads various posted road signs and can widen the sweep of the car's headlight beams to illuminate both the road ahead as well as any cross-traffic that may pose a threat. The system also uses GPS information from the on-board navigation system to better illuminate corners and dips on any specific route and then stores that information to ensure it can automatically optimize the vehicle's lighting the next time it encounters the same stretch of road. 

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Presently in "pre-development," Ford's Spot Lighting functions by using a pair of supplemental and independently controlled lamps linked to an infrared camera mounted in the vehicle's grille to detect people or large animals on unlit roads. Capable of tracking up to eight "targets," at a range of nearly 400 feet, it can shine a beam on the two most critical ones at any given moment and also highlight their position on a dash display framing each in yellow or red, depending on the perceived threat level. According to Michael Koherr, research engineer, Lighting Systems, Ford of Europe, the Spot Lighting system can provide a driver with up to three seconds of additional response time to take evasive action and avoid a potential accident.  

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