July 25, 2002
Mercedes-Benz unveils swivelling headlamps
Stuttgart, Germany – A new active cornering headlamp system from Mercedes-Benz is set to enhance night-driving safety. Developed in conjunction with Hella, this new technology is currently proving itself in test vehicles operated by the Stuttgart-based car manufacturer.
The active cornering headlamp system features headlamps which follow the driver’s steering movements and swivel in the corresponding direction almost instantaneously as the vehicle enters the curve. Illumination of the traffic lane is improved by up to 90 percent as a result: whereas conventional dipped head-lamps are able to provide illumination for a distance of some 30 metres when entering a curve with a radius of 190 metres, the new headlamp extends this range by another 25 metres. As the light distribution is matched to the steering angle, the driver is able to see the course of the curve at an early stage and can adapt his or her driving style accordingly.
In developing this innovative technology, Mercedes-Benz deliberately chose an active system rather than a static light which could be operated when cornering because the former also enhances safety significantly on country roads and in extended curves.
The active cornering headlamp system constantly matches itself to the speed of the car: whereas the headlamps follow the steering-wheel angle almost instantaneously during high-speed driving, the swivelling mechanism operates at a correspondingly slower speed when the car is proceeding at a more modest rate in order to ensure that the driver can relate to the way the beam pattern changes.
The active cornering headlamp system is based on the bi-xenon headlamps used in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and operates in both dipped and main-beam mode. The microcomputer which controls the system is integrated in the sedan’s electronic data network and is continuously supplied with real-time information from the steering-angle and speed sensors. Each bi-xenon module is equipped with its own electronics unit and an electric motor which swivels the lamp horizontally.
Dynamic headlamp range adjustment – a standard feature of Mercedes-Benz models equipped with bi-xenon headlamps – also works with the new cornering headlamp system in order to prevent oncoming drivers from being dazzled. Controlled by sensors, this system detects all the movements of the vehicle body and adjusts the headlamp settings accordingly.
The active cornering headlamp system marks the beginning of a new era of headlamp technology featuring multiple lighting functions which adapt themselves to the prevailing driving situation. Examples of these include special city, junction or country road lighting functions. Mercedes-Benz will also develop these adaptive systems to production standard in the years ahead.