New Ford lights swivel to illuminate hazards and detect body heat.
Ford Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting
Ford is developing front lights that illuminate hazards by swivelling to the optimum position and detecting body heat, the manufacturer says. At present, as a car moves towards (say) a roundabout both lamps point forwards. But hazards – such as a cyclist – approach from the right (in the United Kingdom). Ford's camera-based advanced front lighting recognises when the car is close to a roundabout by interpreting the road signs. The left lamp then continues to point in the direction of travel whereas its opposite number pivots right to make it easier to see any traffic that has right of way. This technology – that is not yet available on a production vehicle – also operates at give way and stop signs.
GPS plays a role too. It enables the vehicle to recognise its position on a road then aim its lights in advance. If GPS is not available, the forward-facing camera scans the lane markings for bends then points the lamps. Its conclusions are stored in the satellite navigation system. This – the manufacturer claims – ensures that should the vehicle subsequently travel on the same road its headlamps “adapt to the course of the road automatically”.
Ford of Europe Lighting Systems Research Engineer, Michael Koherr, said: “Camera-based advanced front lighting can help make it easier for the driver to travel at night in unfamiliar surroundings, and to more easily see unexpected hazards”. Mr Koherr added: “At roundabouts, for example, our system helps the driver to clearly see the exits and check if cyclists and pedestrians are crossing the road”.
Ford Spot Lighting Detects Body Heat
Ford is also enhancing its spot lights to make it easier to see hazards such as pedestrians, cyclists or larger animals on unlit roads. It incorporates infra-red cameras that scan for body heat. Once detected, the hazard is illuminated by one of the vehicle's front fog lights. This simultaneously casts a line on the road surface in the relevant direction. Furthermore, the hazard's location is confirmed via a screen on the dashboard and emphasised by either a yellow or red box based on proximity. Ford claims the system helps the motorist spot danger two to three seconds earlier.
Ford Research and Advanced Engineering Vice President, Ken Washington, said: “Many people who drive at night have had to quickly react to someone or something suddenly appearing in the road – as if from nowhere”. He added: “Ford’s Camera-based advanced front lighting system and spot lighting help ensure the driver is quickly alerted to people or animals that could present a danger”.