by Mircea Panait , 17th July 2015
The Blue Oval’s boffins are hard at work in terms of lighting technology. Because driving at night on unlit roads has been and still is a nerve-wracking thing to do, Ford decided to address this issue with the aid of the Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting System and another gizmo called the Spot Lighting System.
Boiled down to the core idea, the lighting technologies FoMoCo is currently working on will enable drivers to identify potential hazards on unilluminated roads at night. By potential hazards, the Ford peeps refer to pedestrians, cyclists, and roadkill-prone animals too.
Building upon the Adaptive Front Lighting System and Traffic Sign Recognition feature already available on various Ford nameplates (such as the Mondeo), the Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting System uses GPS data to better illuminate bends and dips on the route the car is being driven on. If GPS information is not available, a forward-facing camera mounted in the rearview mirror is there to illuminate the road better.
This feat is possible through the analyzation of lane markings, intel used to predict road curvatures. This technology is expected to become available in “the near term” on selected Ford vehicles. As for the Spot Lighting feature, this is the pick of the bunch from our point of view. Even though it’s in its pre-development phase, the technology is operational. The demo in the adjacent video stands as proof to what it’s able to do.
Similar to the system one can find on a Mercedes S-Class, Spot Lighting employs an infrared camera that locates and tracks up to eight people and animals at a given moment, at a range of up to 120 meters. These road hazards are displayed on a screen inside the car, marked in a red or yellow frame. That’s nothing new.
What is new is that the Spot Lighting system reacts to the people/animals detected by the infrared camera by highlighting two potential hazards with a spot and a stripe on the road surface. The beams are illuminated by two powerful LEDs located near the fog lights.
"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,” explains Michael Koherr, research engineer at Ford of Europe’s Lighting Systems division. “Spot Lighting makes potential hazards in the road ahead more easily visible to the driver — whether that is a pedestrian, a cyclist, or even a large animal.”
Ford is Developing Headlights that Illuminate People & Animals in the Dark - Video - autoevolution