Modern automotive lighting is becoming a global trend. There’s ever-increasing technical advances in the lighting field, which inspire manufacturers to seek out the latest inventions. Auto makers are racing towards leading a radical transformation in automotive lighting. They are continually refining and redefining the already existing lighting technologies, and introducing the latest, exciting concepts like laser and OLED technologies. The common focal points when it comes to automotive LED and Optical lighting technology are enhanced performance, memorable design, and improved security.
Here are the latest LED and Optical technologies in the automotive industry:
LED headlamps have generally seen a rapid growth driven by natural LED cost erosion, which has improved the LED penetration rate. The standardization and optimization of LED modules are important factors behind the decreasing costs, which has resulted into more cars being fitted with LED technology.
The LED technology has enabled technologies and innovative functions like the glare-free adaptive high headlight beam, which was introduced in 2013. The use of LED had been limited to high-end vehicles, and has previously had to compete with the conventional light sources such as the High-intensity Discharge (HID/xenon) and halogen lights. Lower power consumption, improved LED performance, and flexible design were the first enablers, and the cost reductions gradually enabled them to be used in all vehicle categories.
The automotive industry is experiencing incredible technical advances such as emergent technologies based on LCDs, microLEDs, and lasers. The Advanced Front Lighting System (AFLS) architecture and sensor interaction are also part of the evolution.
2017 saw the use of LED lighting in a number of cars, including:
- The Acura NSX: It employs the ‘Jewel Eye’ LED headlamps, which rely on a number of individual LEDs that slash across the front part of the car in either side of the grill. They ideally beam their light through the aptly shaped, gem-like lenses. The exterior LEDs offer low beam lighting, while the inner units serve as high beams, and work together to serve as the front Daylight Running Lights (DRLs).
- Cadillac CT6: Has 16 LEDs that flank each headlight in distinctively long vertical lines, which has emerged as the design theme for the brand. These LEDs serve both as DRLs and turn signal indicators, and ideally reduce the number of necessary lights.
- Mercedes Benz E-class: It offers an ambient LED lighting system that lets the user to accent the cabin in any of the 64 different colors. The LED exterior lighting offers a choice between ‘multi-beam active LEDs and the double-torch LED DRL accents. The former leverages 84 LED in a single headlamp, which can be controlled individually to offer benefits like intelligent adaptive lighting and dynamic cornering illumination.
- 2017 Hyundai Elantra Taillights; these are adorned by techie graphics, which create a rather unique extra visual flair. LED turn signal indicators are also available for the exterior mirrors. There are also front DRLs that ideally reflect brightly to underline the headlight of the car. Plus, the LED powered welcome lighting can shine from the door handles when the car detects the keyfob.
The Latest Technologies in Automotive Headlamps
Bending LED Headlamps
The modern LED technology has allowed for a technological revolution in automotive lighting: headlights with a bendable light source. Until very recently, mechanical assemblies were used to move the required parts of the headlamp or to enable the headlamp to achieve the around the corner illumination. Today, those complex mechanical assemblies are quickly being replaced by newer technologies such as the Advanced Forward Lighting Systems (AFS), which can be implemented more simply in vehicles.
These around the corner car lights have already been installed in some of the luxury car brands. The headlamps also feature Intelligent LED systems that give the driver an optimal vision when approaching other vehicles or even on the edge of roads, providing them with a much better protection from possible accidents.
The OLED technology allows for an entirely new line of design options for hid lighting sources, and ideally has a huge interest among consumers in the automotive industry. OLEDs are ideally flat light sources that are capable of achieving more homogeneity compared to their counterparts and can be individually and steplessly dimmed.
Another fascinating feature of OLEDs is that they are highly flexible. Aside from convex and concave bending, the OLEDs allow for incisions in the lighting area. Flexible OLEDs have three individually dimmable and controllable segments, meaning that they don’t need any light guides, reflectors, or similar optics to be viewed from any viewing angle.
They can also be shaped into 3D modules and integrated into the rear lights. Some of the benefits of rear light with flexible OLEDs include:
- Possibility for concave and convex bending
- 2.5-dimensional OLED light source
- Capable of free-form design that opens up new possibilities
- Features a number of segments that are individually dimmable.
- High homogeneity without the need for complex light management
This is an absolute innovation in automotive lighting and is ideally the next forward leap since the introduction of LED, halogen, and Xenon headlight technologies. It opens up new opportunities in both the performance and design of automotive headlights. With laser light, headlamps can essentially be made significantly more efficient and much smaller.
Part of the reason why laser diodes are so remarkable is perhaps their relatively small size. A single laser diode can generate nearly a punctiform of luminous flux, produced within an area few thousandths a millimeter. Already, their brightness is almost 4 times that produced by an LED headlamp, meaning that the headlights can be designed to be much smaller in the near future without affecting the intensity of the light.
The primary benefit that you’re likely to notice from these headlights is that they will have a much longer range; the longest range produced by the current headlight technology. This way, drivers will benefit from the increased visibility, and therefore an increased road traffic safety.
The first production vehicles that came with full laser beams include the BMW i8, the all new BMW 7 Series, and the Audi R8 LMX. Their laser technology gives them a range of up to 600 meters, which is double the distance of the current standard LED lights.