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Here’s How Ford’s New GPS-Based Headlights Will Transform Night-Time Driving

Driving at night can be extremely demanding, especially on unfamiliar, winding roads, and many accidents occur due to poor visibility. Ford intends to change all that with its next-generation headlights that adapt to the road with unparalleled precision.
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A few decades ago, one of the most popular extreme sports was driving at night. Before xenon, LED, or adaptive headlights, that was the ultimate adventure for drivers, regardless of their experience. Things got even more hectic when they needed to navigate an unfamiliar route.

However, thanks to the aforementioned technologies, the experience has improved, but even the most advanced headlights currently available do not offer the safest, most stress-free experience. That is particularly evident on narrow, winding roads where the odds of encountering pedestrians, cyclists, or wildlife are high.

Some people avoid this experience and choose not to drive at night, but others, like those who drive for a living, may not afford to do the same.

Ford is among the manufacturers working on new ways to eliminate the dangers associated with driving at night by pioneering new headlight technologies. A few years ago, the Focus introduced a new lighting system able to read road signs and lane markings to adjust headlight beams optimally. But the Blue Oval’s engineers didn’t stop there.

A team from the company’s Research and Advanced Engineering European division is currently working on a new technology that uses real-time location data to automatically adjust the beams to the direction of the road so that maximum visibility is ensured regardless of the situation.

In a recently posted video (which you can view below), the team showcases the prototype currently undergoing testing and explains that the headlights use software linked to the vehicle’s navigation to identify turns in the road ahead accurately. Additionally, engineers state that these smart headlights can illuminate hazards and other road users more quickly and effectively.

Apart from the GPS data, this technology uses an algorithm that calculates the trajectory and speed of the vehicle to precisely adjust the direction of its beams. That results in optimal visibility of bends, junctions, road signs, and even potential hazards like oncoming pedestrians, cyclists, or wildlife.

“The predictive lighting technology we are developing now means that one day driving in the dark could be as simple as just following your headlights. This new map- and the location-based system is the next step on our quest to make driving at night no more difficult or stressful as during the day,” says Michael Koherr, Ford of Europe lighting research engineer.

But what happens if drivers navigate a stretch of road where location data is not available? The researchers involved say that in these situations, the system will work alongside camera- and steering-based dynamic adaptive technologies to make up for the loss of GPS data.

The team also states that it has tested the system extensively in a virtual environment. The simulator they used accurately calculates how light falls and reflects in the real world, allowing researchers to significantly optimize the technology before taking it out on real roads.

For now, there’s no word on when the new predictive smart headlights are going to go into production, but we hope that all future Ford vehicles will be equipped with it. From what we can see, it will undoubtedly improve the experience of driving at night, which in turn will exponentially improve safety.


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