Ford tests shape projection headlights
Ford engineers in Europe are testing headlights that can project various shapes on the road as a way to reduce distractions.
The head-up display projected important information in the driver’s field of vision, so engineers tried to do the same with the car’s headlights. Ford’s prototype system could project lights to indicate directions, speed limits or weather information on the road ahead.
This can help drivers look at the road instead of staring at the screen, Ford says, adding that even looking away from the road at normal speeds means you’ll be blind for a considerable distance. .
Ford projector headlights
Using headlights to project information rather than relying solely on overhead displays can also benefit other road users. The automaker recommends a crosswalk that both drivers and pedestrians can see, or headlights that can show a safe path around cyclists.
The technology can also be used to warn drivers of snow, fog or ice ahead, Ford said. The automaker also suggests that it could connect the lights to the navigation system to show upcoming turns, like a more advanced version of the augmented reality navigation available in some models. Mercedes-Benz vehicles or project the width of the vehicle so drivers can judge whether they’ll fit through a gap or into a parking space.
Ford isn’t the first automaker to experiment with shape-shifting headlights. In 2018, Mercedes prove something similar with digital headlights in it Maybach S-Class luxury sedans. At the time, Mercedes said these programmable million-pixel lights could project paths through construction sites or use arrows to mark pedestrians, among other things.
The hardware required to project shapes onto the road was only recently legalized in the United States. A previous law dating back to 1967 required headlights to have separate high-beam and low-beam elements, effectively banning settings like Mercedes’ digital headlights. The use of these headlights is Officially approved earlier this year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was instructed to do so in infrastructure law approved by the end of 2021.
Ford hasn’t discussed plans to commercialize its own shape-projecting headlights for any markets, but at least the door is now open to making the technology available to US shoppers.