Using european roads has never been safer than in 2013, as shown by current statistics. Nevertheless, the risk of fatal accidents at night is significantly higher than at daytime. To improve the situation, the development of a new automotive headlight is sponsored by the research program "Photonik Forschung Deutschland". The system will be capable of switching to a situation-adequate lighting continuously and in realtime.

In order to illuminate the road adequately for any given situation, an LC display will be used to replace the usual mechanical shutter drum in a headlight. With this technique, a pixel based, high resolution control of the light distribution can be achieved. A number of different companies from nearly all kinds of participants of the research and value chain of an automotive headlighting system work together with the University of Paderborn as a project consortium in order to develop this new headlamp system. Research will be done on special liquid crystals, embedded electronic units and mechanical concepts. Additionally, a new optical system and the integration of all the developed parts into one headlight module are neccessary.

Scenario-based analysis and perception oriented project requirements

Besides the new technical features developed in the project, it is a new approach to use the perception oriented demands of all traffic participants (light distribution and spectrum, contrasts, homogeneity, reduction of glare e.g.) as a foundational requirement to the project. The L-LAB of the University of Paderborn is researching and defining these requirements. Determining the demands is done on a theoretical and empirical basis. At first, representative use cases are defined and analyzed regarding the criteria which can be used to make night time driving safer. In a second step new lighting functions will be defined. These will be rated and verified by means of driving with test persons using an eye tracking system.

Demonstration and verification of the results

The implementation of the investigated requirements regarding the headlamp system will be verified at the end of the project. A demonstration vehicle will be equipped with the new technology. This will allow for test drives with subjects to investigate the increase of safety for night time driving through the use of the new lighting system, which can illuminate the road situation-adequate.

Additionally to an increasing number of driving assistance systems especially the headlamps do potentially increase safety at night for the passengers of the car and everyone involved in the traffic situation. By implementing intelligent and fully adaptive headlights, a big step towards fewer fatal accidents can be taken.