The luxury car marquee Mercedes-Benz has always been a pioneer in the vehicle technology and their latest in headlight tech goes to show how dedicated the company is to improving and enhancing the safety of night time driving for not just the the person driving their cars but other road users as well. The new MULTIBEAM LED headlight technology seen on the 2015 CLS-Class uses LEDs, on-board cameras, GPS, etc. to increase safety and provide better illumination. We explain how.
“This technology allows us to respond much faster to changes in our surroundings, and for example, to adapt the light to the new situation in the space of 10 milliseconds- something that was not possible before” says Mercedes-Benz development engineer Florian Herold. A total of four control units calculate the ideal light pattern 100 times a second. That is fast! Most normal road cars in India don’t even feature automatic headlamps which just goes to show how far ahead Mercedes has gotten in terms of technology. What this means is the on-board system is working constantly to enhance the driving experience and make night time driving safer in more ways than one.
Non-Dazzling High Beam
One of the biggest features of the MULTIBEAM LED headlight tech, and something India desperately needs, is the non-dazzling high beam which ensures the driver of the on-coming vehicle is not blinded by the brightness of Mercedes’ headlamps. Its not completely new but more of a refinement of the existing camera based Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus feature seen on current Mercs which would mechanically block a certain area of the light beam cone in order to avoid dazzling the driver. The new system however improves on this by forming a U-shape around the on-coming vehicle instead of blocking the beam to provide better illumination for the driver around the car without blinding the on-coming drivers (see info-graphic below. The darker region represents less illumination). This achieved by using a highly responsive, high precision light module as a grid-pattern light source featuring 24 individual high performance LED chips which can be controlled electronically and independently of each other. As a result the now the driver does not have to worry about switching between low-beam and high-beam since the car will take care of that and he/she can concentrate fully on driving.
Early Corner Recognition
The MULTIBEAM LED headlamp set-up comprises of another module for dipped beam consisting of four LED units. On-board cameras on the windscreen sense upcoming bends on the road before the steering wheel is turned. This information is relayed to the control module which calculates the angle of the bend and uses these LEDs to illuminate the corner by rotating them by up to 12 degrees. It also returns them to the straight ahead position once the bend has been negotiated. What this means is that the driver has a better idea of the road ahead and by providing increased illumination the makes it easier to spot potential dangers.
A lot of modern day cars feature something similar, but very rudimentary, called cornering headlamps which turn with the steering and thus, fail to provide any extra illumination before the turn is negotiated.
Roundabout Illumination Feature
The third highlight of the MULTIBEAM LEDs is the cornering light function with the roundabout feature. This feature works in tandem with the on-board navigation system and informs the control module of any upcoming roundabouts. Before entering the roundabout the left and right cornering lights are activated to provide wider illumination making it easier to spot on-coming cars, cyclists, pedestrians, etc.
Mercedes-Benz claims this new lighting system is the most advanced currently seen on road cars, although Audi and BMW have their own versions of high tech LED headlamps known as the Matrix LED and laser beam headlights respectively. But to ensure it comes out on top the company is looking at further enhancing the MULTIBEAM headlamp set-up by incorporating 84 individual LEDs instead of the current 24. Also in the works is a ‘High Range’ LED high beam, that can light up the road up to 600 meters ahead, a system which they claim will be cheaper than BMW’s laser headlight technology.
The MULTIBEAM LED headlamp set-up currently only available on the 2015 CLS-Class but should slowly be rolled out in other models as well. Although, countries like the USA which have regulations requiring separate high beams and low beams will miss out in this feature.