Hella Launches High-Definition LED Headlight System

June 20, 2016 at 6:29 AM

Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. is introducing a new light-emitting-diode headlamp system with a programmable beam pattern that can adapt to a variety of driving conditions.

The system is being launched on the 2017-model Mercedes E-Class sedan in Europe. The technology isn’t allowed in the U.S. under current safety regulations.

In addition to standard high- and low-beam functions, the adaptable high-definition LED headlights are capable of angling around corners and masking portions of the beam to prevent blinding oncoming drivers.

The light source consists of three rows of LEDs with 84 individual LEDS per headlamp. Each LED projects through a transparent silicone light optic in place of glass and thermoplastics, which Hella says is an industry first that allows for a sharply defined beam pattern and is more durable and easier to produce. Secondary lenses further focus the light.

A forward-facing video camera can identify other vehicles, lane markers, the road edge and traffic signs. Software algorithms allow the system to project a high beam on both sides of an oncoming vehicle, without aiming at the vehicle itself, to illuminate pedestrians and animals at increased distances. The headlamp also can project a pattern that improves visibility in the rain, according to the supplier.

Hella says that the system allows vehicles to drive with their headlamps in a high-beam mode most of the time without affecting other drivers. Future systems are expected to use even more LEDs to sharpen the resolution and control of the beam pattern.

The LED headlights are a $2,000 option on the E-Class. Hella expects the cost to come down on future applications as volumes increase.

Hella expects LED headlamps will be on 44% of new vehicles sold in Europe by 2020. Penetration rates for North America and China are forecasted to be 23% and 16%, respectively, by that time.