The long days of summer will soon give way to the shorter days and longer nights of winter. With this in mind, Ford is talking up two of its latest headlight safety technologies that point out people and animals in the dark. The systems use GPS to adjust the front lights to the turns in the road and an infrared camera system that can identify pedestrians and animals.
“Many people who drive at night have had to quickly react to someone or something suddenly appearing in the road – as if from nowhere. Ford’s Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting System and Spot Lighting help ensure the driver is quickly alerted to people or animals that could present a danger,” says Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.
“Camera-Based Advanced Front LIghting can help make it easier for the driver to travel at night in unfamiliar surroundings, and to more easily see unexpected hazards. At roundabouts, for example, our system helps the driver to clearly see the exits – and check if cyclists and pedestrians are crossing the road. Spot Lighting makes potential hazards in the road ahead more easily visible to the driver – whether that is a pedestrian, a cyclist, or even a large animal,” says Michael Koherr, research engineer, Lighting Systems, Ford of Europe.
The Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting System works by widening the beams at intersections and roundabouts. On roundabouts, one headlight adjust to show the turning road in front of the driver and the other shifts to light up the exits.
The GPS comes in handy by allowing the headlights to make adjustments to the road ahead on available routes. When GPS is not available, the system relies on the front camera mounted on the rearview mirror to sense lane markings and make adaptations accordingly.
The camera system also uses a memory system that stores routes so that the next time a road is driven the headlights are adjusted using the previously obtained information.
The Spot Lighting infrared camera system allows for people and large animals, aka warm bodies, to be detected by their body heat. Two independently moving lights then spotlight up to two beings to allow drivers to more easily detect them and make adjustments. To add to this, a screen also highlights the spotlighted beings in either yellow for potential hazards or red for immediate hazards.
The infrared Spot Lighting system is still in the prototype stage. However, Ford says the Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting System should be available soon.