Opel's Guiding Light Headlamps: Light where you look
GM's Opel division is working on new smart headlights capable of actively tracking a driver's eyes to illuminate the looked-at direction. Although still in the experimental stage, these Gen III adaptive lamps are set to go into production at some point in the not-too-distant future following the introduction of the automaker's LED matrix lights. "We've been pursuing this concept of controlling the direction and intensity of light based on where the driver is looking for around two years. The more we understand the benefits of this technology, the more intensively we push ahead with our joint project," says Ingolf Schneider, Director Lighting Technology at Opel, describing the collaboration between Opel's International Technical Development Center and the Technical University of Darmstadt.
Opel's Guiding Light technology relies on a specially modified camera fitted with peripheral infra-red sensors and central photo-diodes that can scan a driver's eyes more than 50 times per second in dusk and night-time conditions. Because a driver's eyes tend to unconsciously "jump" from place to place as they look out ahead, the system also needed a secondary control element, which Schneider indicates came in the form of a sophisticated delay algorithm that ensures the projected lighting pattern will always have an appropriately fluid motion and remain aimed where it belongs. He went on to note: "Another major benefit is that the eye-tracker doesn't have to be individually calibrated for a particular driver. The system works perfectly with anyone behind the wheel, no matter what their size." Opel says the setup designed to remain functional even if a driver becomes momentarily distracted, because the vehicle's low beams are programmed to ensure sufficient illumination will always exist.
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