Looking Ahead at Headlights

Courtesy of USAToday.com

LEDs, which seem to be the protagonist in almost every lighting story these days, are also doing wonders for cars.

You’ve probably spotted those signature LED “eyebrows” on the newest cars, and all those pretty jewel-like taillights. But, LEDs aren’t just about enhanced styling – they can also help reduce fuel consumption.

LEDs only use 14 watts of electricity instead of a conventional lamp’s 65 watts. For electric vehicles, LEDs can extend a charge up to 6 miles!

So yes, LED headlights are great, but that’s not the end of the road. New headlight technology could help us in disaster situations like this:

(Well, sort of.)

Get this – researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are creating a smart headlight system that literally shines between raindrops.

Lead by Srinivasa Narasinhan, a professor of robotics, the team plans to improve nighttime visibility during storms by redirecting light between raindrops and snowflakes, reducing glare. The system uses a computer, a camera, and a projector. The camera takes continuous pictures of the particles a few yards ahead, and calculates where they’ll be just a few milliseconds later. The computer deactivates the LED light beams that would otherwise illuminate the particles, at a speed too fast for the human eye to detect a flicker.

Courtesy of CMU.edu

Instead of long, distracting streaks of light, the precipitation would only look like tiny black threads!

The researchers are still trying to overcome a few challenges, like gauging the path when a vehicle is moving especially fast, or how to best see through splashes, which move in more chaotic patterns. Plus, blizzards or torrential rainfall may cause the system to reduce brightness to an unsafe level.

However, this light system has amazing potential for assisting the driver even when it’s not raining. Here are just a few examples:

  • Focusing lights on signs and lines on the road.
  • Illuminating the vehicle’s entire lane when lines are too faint.
  • Including infrared radiation to detect pedestrians, deer, or other animals.

It’s possible that this new technology will be available in just a few years.

For more information, you can check out this press release from Carnegie Mellon OR this article from Lighting.com.

Annie Josey

Annie was the E-Commerce Marketing Specialist at Pegasus Lighting from June 2012 to October 2013. She has a background in English literature, and loves using language to help illuminate the world. So covering lighting news and tips naturally fit her interests. In her personal time she enjoys painting, biking, and reading.