Eye-Tracking Headlights Technology from Opel Currently in Development

Remember HAL 9000 from Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey series and Stanley Kubrick's movie? Apparently, so does General Motors' European arm, which just confirmed that eye-tracking technology will be employed by future Opel models. So what's the thing with this science fiction-like feature?
Eye-Tracking Headlights Technology from Opel 6 photos
Photo: Opel
Eye-Tracking Headlights Technology from OpelEye-Tracking Headlights Technology from OpelOpel Adaptive Headlights (AFL+)Opel Adaptive Headlights (AFL+)Opel Adaptive Headlights (AFL+)
Apparently, the Russelsheim-based automaker that sells Vauxhall-branded cars in the United Kingdom is adamant that car headlamp beams that are directed by the driver's eyes are not all that far away from reality. "We’ve been pursuing this concept of controlling the direction and intensity of light based on where the driver is looking for around two years." said Ingolf Schneider, director of Opel's lighting department.

Put simply, a single video camera is fitted inside the vehicle. Through intricate software and a suite of peripheral infrared sensors and photo-diodes, this camera is able to scan the driver's eyes more than 50 times per second at night. Using an intricate algorithm, the system is able to determine where the driver is looking, then makes horizontal and vertical adjustments to the headlamps. Not exactly complicated, isn't it?

Well, that's the impression. The biggest problem overcomed by Opel lighting engineers is the natural tendency to jump from one focal point to another. "We have successfully developed a sophisticated delay algorithm which ensures a suitably flowing movement for the light cone,” added Schneider. This ensures that car lighting is provided in the direction of travel even though the driver is momentarily distracted.

In related Opel lighting news, the outgoing AFL+ adapative xenon headlamps tech will be replaced by the European manufacturer's first ever LED matrix light system "within the next 18 months." The next-generation lighting system will work in conjunction with the Opel Eye front camera, we're told.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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