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Lighting System

Headlamps are important for safety and design

The headlights should evenly light up a large portion of the road in front of the vehicle using the smallest possible light emission area and without blinding the oncoming traffic. The red tail-lights warn the following motorists that a vehicle is ahead. Thereby, the complete lighting system should not only fit in with the form of the body work, it should also support certain styling intentions (recognition value). Nowadays, this is more applicable to the rear-end, e.g., to distinguish the different body variations of the same model, of course all with the same basic design, sometimes even typical of the brand. Naturally, the front-end design is, as before, very important. This is why the headlights are sometimes also called the car's 'eyes'. Because these are more and more aerodynamically shaped and similar to each other, the headlamps present a (sometimes also brand-typical) recognition factor. One only has to consider the typical rings which BMW uses for the parking lights. Night design as a brand- and model recognition characteristic.

More light on the motorway and and for winding roads/cornering

The future demands on the lighting system are much more complex. The lights should switch themselves on and off automatically. The headlamps can adjust their range to the motorway or adapt themselves to certain curves. On the motorway e.g., at more than 90 km/h, the light intensity is raised, and at over 110 km/h, the headlight-range on the passenger side is increased. In curves, the system reacts to the steering movements by swiveling the headlight unit. The swivelling lights also react to the operation of the indicators. In this case an additional headlight is at work, which comes into play at crossings, roundabouts and when reversing. However, the system is coupled to a certain, low speed.

Radar vs. infra-red, head-up as opposed to conventional display

We now come to the output display units. Apart from the highly developed mirrors, there are also the monitor and the lower part of the windscreen (Head-up-Display). The supervision can occur, e.g., through infra-red, or even better, through radar, also without showing a direct output. Should one come too near to the guardrails, a countersteering automatically takes place, or the distance to the vehicle in front is held through a maximum of 20% braking.

Synthetic glass and possibly fibre-optic light conductors

Some of these demands, e.g., the automatic light switching and the curve lighting, are already reality. As far as the materials are concerned, first of all, the diffuser glass has been changed. The description 'glass' is no longer accurate, it is available in Acrylic and through the changes in the reflector, has become completely transparent. Modern synthetics are so scratch resistant that they are able to withstand the sand blasting of the wind flow and the force of the car-wash. Perhaps soon we'll be driving with just one central gas discharge lamp, whose light is transported through fiberglass cables to where the headlamps are found today. Then these are even more variable as far as form and position are concerned than today, e.g., as a vertical or horizontal line. The designers will have even more leeway.

Demands on the sensors and the workshops

High demands are made on the sensors. By now, they can recognise darkness, however, in future, they will have to be able to correctly scan the landscape. In the analysis, the control device would have to be able to 'see' lane markings and vehicles in front and to learn to differentiate between them and e.g., light flashes from the side. Recognition and analysis of the surroundings is the catchphrase, which could, one of these days, mean automatic observance of speed limits. Indeed, this would be in competition with navigation systems, which nowadays, also point out when your speed is to high. The workshops are, apart from having to cope with the repairs or the exchanging of parts, also having to do the adjusting using a plumb line and all sorts of instruments from the field of measurement technology. 05/11