Intelligent headlights

We have all been blinded by the headlights of on-coming cars whilst driving at night. Or, we may have blinded others. Now, there’s a much smarter way to see in the dark.

We have all been blinded by the headlights of on-coming cars whilst driving at night. Or, we have done the same to others. For years, the automotive industry has searched for a solution to solve the problem.

Early ‘automatic’ high-beam controls systems abruptly changed from high to low beams and did not work well. They were unable to effectively see preceding vehicle taillights, and could not distinguish many types of light sources within an adequate time period.

Fortunately, engineers at Gentex have now come up with they believe is the ultimate solution. Their ‘SmartBeam’ is an intelligent high-beam headlamp control system that automatically turns vehicle high beams on and off according to surrounding traffic conditions, improving a driver’s forward vision by optimising the use of the vehicle’s high-beam headlamps.

The SmartBeam system is integrated into a Gentex automatic-dimming rearview mirror and consists of a camera, or sensor, that acts like the human eye, detecting surrounding traffic/lighting conditions, and a microprocessor, that makes decisions about the appropriate use of the high-beam headlamps.

The system uses a fully custom, forward-facing CMOS image sensor to acquire images in front of the vehicle, which are then processed to determine the intensity, colour, position and movement of various light sources.

If no other traffic is present, the system automatically activates the high beams. When it detects the headlamps of oncoming traffic, or the taillights of preceding vehicles, it automatically returns the headlamps to their normal, low-beam state. Better yet, to make the transition from low to high beams and back again less distracting and more aesthetically pleasing, Gentex has also engineered SmartBeam to slowly fade the high beams on and off. However, if traffic suddenly appears, such as when cresting a hill or rounding a corner, the system will immediately turn off the high beams.

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