Let there be light
- Dazzle-free: 84 individually controlled LEDs per MULTIBEAM LED headlamp
- Patented: Konrad Zuse devised the principle of partial main-beam headlamps in 1958
- Ambitious: research group Micro-AFS aims to combine 1024 LEDs
Hünfeld | Stuttgart, 26 April 2016. With its 84 individually controlled high-performance LEDs, the MULTIBEAM LED headlamp in the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is testament to the work of Konrad Zuse (1910 – 1995), the German inventor of the computer, and specifically to his proposal for a controllable system of vehicle lights.
Until the digitisation of older records, Zuse’s invention, registered in 1958 under the number 1190413 and entitled “Lighting device photoelectrically controlled by backlight,” remained buried in the German Patent Office’s archives. In the patent the computer pioneer, inventor and talented artist describes how maximum illumination of the road can be achieved with minimal disturbance to oncoming traffic. With today’s cutting-edge LED technology, Zuse’s brainwave is ripe for series production.
The inventor of the computer envisaged multiple light sources which are deactivated by photoelectric cells if these cells detect other cars in their vicinity. In the innovative MULTIBEAM LED light system, the photoelectric cells are replaced by a camera in the windscreen which provides the necessary information on the vehicle’s surroundings. Four control units use the camera images to calculate the ideal light pattern 100 times per second and activate the 84 high-performance LEDs in each headlamp accordingly.
This helps to enhance safety. Because in contrast to static high-beam systems, MULTIBEAM LED also supports the driver when there are other vehicles in the field illuminated by the headlamps. Dr Jörg Moisel, Head of Light Technologies at Daimler AG: “The key is distributing the light intelligently and precisely.” To ensure the best possible light performance at all times, without dazzling other road users, the system adjusts to the course of the road and, via the information from the camera, to the vehicle’s actual surroundings. By making the distribution of light freely configurable in both headlamp grid modules, it has been possible to implement all of the headlamp functions, including for example the dynamic cornering light function, without any mechanical actuators. The new adverse weather light function reduces reflections on the opposite carriageway in the rain by specifically dimming individual LEDs. This prevents indirect dazzling of oncoming vehicles. The city light on the other hand provides a particularly wide distribution of light when travelling at low speeds in built-up areas, brightly illuminating difficult-to-see pavements and danger zones. And data from the navigation system is used to ensure that the distribution of light automatically adapts to the vehicle’s surroundings on roundabouts, at junctions and on motorways.
The 84 light diodes currently make full use of the space available in the headlamp. But researchers are already thinking ahead. As part of the Micro-AFS (Adaptive Lighting System) collaborative project, light experts from Osram, Infineon, Daimler and others are hoping to pack up to 1024 LEDs into a semiconductor. The project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is due to come to an end in July 2016 when a prototype is expected to be unveiled.