February 27, 2003

Swivelling headlamps now legal in Europe

Lippstadt, Germany – New regulations in Europe now permit headlamps that turn with the car. One of the first cars available with this system is the Mercedes-Benz T-model E-Class. Its ‘active bend lighting’ is a swivelling bi-xenon system jointly developed by Hella lighting specialists and Mercedes engineers.

The companies claims active bend lighting significantly improves active road safety, because the bi-xenon headlamps follow the car driver’s steering movements and swivel to the side when steering into a bend. This means that the range of the dipped beam light in bends can be increased by up to 90 percent: where the area usually illuminated when driving into a bend with a diameter of 190 metres is around 30 metres, the new headlamp technology extends this by a further 25 metres. Since the beam pattern corresponds to the respective steering angle, the driver can recognise the course of the bend early and adapt his driving style accordingly.

Active bend lighting works both in the dipped beam and main beam functions and is continually adapted to the respective driving speed. While at high speed the headlamps follow the steering angle in seconds, the swivelling mechanism works correspondingly slower at lower speed, distributing the light where the driver needs it.

A micro-computer integrated into the electronic data network of the T-model and which is continually fed with up-to-date information about the steering angle and speed sensors controls the active bend lighting. For this purpose, the two bi-xenon modules are both fitted with an additional separate electronic unit and an electric motor, which are responsible for the horizontal swivelling movements.

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