But this strikes me as a very lazy piece anyway. There's no skepticism about the claims, or the reasons why the US might have its current headlight standards. It's basically a PR piece for this product.
The opening line clued me in to how bad it was going to be, though: "Most people don’t turn on their car’s headlights and think, I wish they were brighter." Sure I do! But on the other hand, I also don't want to blind the cars I'm about to pass within six feet of that are coming towards me at an effective 140mph when I'm driving on a dark back country road after dark, which I do hundreds of miles of every week. That's why we have dimmable headlights in the first place.
High beam lights and aftermarket lights are not aimed like this and thus shine into your passenger compartment. Properly aimed lights never point in. An issue in the USA is that unlike Europe we have no requirement to autolevel lights even when cresting a hill. So you notice that when someone comes up over a hill you get flashed with light. That might be an issue with these.
By that definition, properly aimed lights haven't been invented yet. I have headlights like that, where you see brightness end at a horizontal line. Going over the crest of a hill angles the beams in a way that goes into cars.
Actually my family has two cars. I get a lot more people blinking their brights at me in the one with that kind of headlight, presumably because they think my brights are on when they aren't.
The article describes automated systems to turn the laser version away from detected cars ahead, so it will just blind cyclists and pedestrians.
As I said in the parent post it is already required on all new cars in Europe as of now.
I'm not sure why the US maintains a separate vehicle lighting standard versus most of the rest of the world. Their standard allows for more glare from low beams, less usable light on the road, and a less focused hotspot for high beams.
For example, when driving overseas in Dubai in a rented Toyota Yaris, I didn't even need to use the prismatic rear-view mirror's night setting when driving at night because of the far better UNECE glare control standard. In the US, I drive a Honda Odyssey and sit a bit higher up compared to the Yaris and I frequently have problems with glare from traffic ahead and behind me and always have to use the night-setting on the rear-view mirror.
Here in California, the worst glare comes from people who have put high intensity bulbs into non-projector housings, people with oxidized/hazy lenses on older cars, and people who misuse fog and other auxilliary lights. The common factor is the ominidirectional emissions which are far outside the regulated light pattern.
I've seen several newer Acuras and BMWs switch from single projector to multiple, which helps, though you'd really need quite a few more to lower the glare back to a what a big reflector light produces. I kinda wonder sometimes what it would be like if we were able to emit across the entire frontal area of the car -- it might be possible to emit significantly more than current HID setups while having less glare than ever.
In my opinion, many new cars are very comfortable with sharp cutoffs on their lights and almost no off-axis glare. They may be blinding if you're about to be run over, but from the next lane over or at normal windshield height, they are quite tame. But others are terrible and most seem to fall into the categories I mentioned above: obvious aftermarket disasters with bright bulbs mismatched to the optics, older cars with hazy lenses, and people using fog lights (or high beams) in totally inappropriate conditions, throwing light everywhere with poor cutoffs.
I'm actually starting to wonder how much of the problem is an aging population trying to compensate for their failing eyesight by blinding us with high beams and fog lights.
Even some of the dedicated retrofit enthusiasts go a little too far IMO. The pursuit of the almighty sharp cutoff line results in an on/off style of lighting. Go down a dip in the road with zero light above the cutoff and suddenly your line of sight is 20 feet.
The US regulations are bloody terrible. If you want to see cool high-tech lighting, go to Europe.
Do youtube searches for "Audi Matrix headlights", Mercedes Multibeam, etc.
Roads are uneven, you have curves and bumps and ramps. Unless there is an inteligent system actively tracking incoming vehicles and avoiding them, there is always a chance that you will hit someone with the full force of 10x brighter lasers. I know of no such inteligent headlight system, that needs to have close to 100% demonstrated success rate. Blinding the driver of a single bike or tractor is enough to produce a major accident.
The way the headlight arms race is going, I believe there is an opportunity for defensive technology to be invented: a liquid crystal layer in your windshield that, coupled with a camera that tracks your eyes location, is able to reduce the transparency of a very small spot in your field of view that covers the incoming vehicle. Seems like it could be implemented with 80s tech.
The lasers are fired into a phosphorous element to excite it into emitting light which is then reflected down field. The advantages of this over LED and other tech is that it uses less power and produces less heat.
VW has the tech available since 2017: https://www.volkswagen-newsroom.com/en/dynamic-light-assist-...
YT videos showing it on the road: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=vw+dynamic+ligh...
The guy running the stand showed us how to peel the shell away from the membrane of an uncooked egg, before then winding the dial right up and letting me saw a lamb jaw bone in half with it.
They really are pretty impressive devices.
I really liked him, but there was a combination of his location being inconvenient, and one of his dental techs was terrible, so I switched.
Works as easy as removing the battery, pushing the back of the car down, therefore lifting the headlights up. Reconnect the battery and that lifted state will be memorized as 0-level by the headlights. Now remove the weight from the back, the car will come back into it's normal position but the lights think they are too low, so they will level themselves higher and therefore blind oncoming traffic...
Having been blinded by oncoming traffic on the Autobahn a few times, reading this is extremely infuriating. Xenon headlights are especially vile.
And if you need to see the TÜV, you just leave out the trunk friends and are good to go as the headlights will then level themselves to the normal position again.
I've been blinded so often by Xenon headlights, I'm not sure if this is a widespread problem or if I'm just sensitive to those bright lights in the dark. On the other hand I've been blinded in daylight too, so it doesn't seem like it's about the darkness. And as my eyes have been tested to working very well I have the feeling that headlight settings are getting more aggressive even in normal mode.
I don't care who installed the lights, whether it was the factory, the current or previous driver/owner. If I can't see because of your lights, they're too damn bright.
When driving in rural areas, I sometimes flip off the lights to see much more in my periphery than I could with the lights on. This is dangerous of course, as the lights are meant more to be seen than to see.
That's definitely false for headlights, fog lights, and for the extra light bars (well, maybe those are often installed as stylistic choices rather than utility).
Tail lights, running lights, turn signals are all more to be seen than to help the driver see.
You can see a surprising amount even just by starlight - but I wouldn't want to drive that way, knowing how I've stumbled over things a flashlight would have shown me.
Headlights are definitely to help the driver see (cloudy moonless nights, reflective road signs, etc.). Only at twilight or in fog would they be mostly to help you be seen. When it's really dark, running lights would be sufficient for that.
But this isn’t recommended because if another car came along they wouldn’t immediately be able to see you! Light makes you much more visible, and it also allows you to better see a narrow part of the road (more if wide beams are used), but it hides a lot. Of course, being in the high desert in the middle of the night off a freeway, there aren’t many other cars around anyways, if any.
Is it? Do you think that the sun is usually out as well? And note that often the moon is out during the day...
The worst case won't be touched at all - that's the thousands who've bought illegally bright aftermarket kits, installed illegally without adaptation or self-levelling, probably in illegal cool colours too. Not a police priority so few will get pulled.
Night driving is becoming ever more unpleasant as a result.
The American reticence to road cameras is a sign that we all think we're doing something that's illegal (we are). The laws need to be fixed.
If by fixed you mean changed to reflect the behavior of average people so that the average person is not breaking them daily then I fully agree.
These laser headlights, for example, are much brighter by default than standard headlights, but their safety for other drivers depends presumably on moving parts. When these parts wear out, what's the likelihood that drivers get them fixed versus just continuing to drive as-is, melting other drivers' eyeballs?
> All of this luminosity leads to an obvious question: How are these devices, which have the approximate wattage of the klieg spotlights commonly found outside world premieres, supposed to be safely installed in the front of a car without inadvertently blinding oncoming traffic?
> “Because of the point source nature of the beam, you can pinpoint the light,” said Nakamura. “You can even shape it dynamically on the fly, so the beam will go down, or to the right, away from the eyes of motorists.”
So, cyclists and pedestrians just have to deal with it, as always. Just like current "automatic" high-beam, which does an "ok" job at detecting other cars but fails completely at detecting other non-vehicular road users.
Or when it's snowing and all that directed laser light is being reflected right back at you (not mentioning reflectors which are already absurdly bright with LED and halogen bulbs).
Or when you hit a bump in the road and the redirection of light doesn't occur fast enough.
Or when the vibration of fifty-thousand miles impairs the aiming mirrors. Can you imagine the pathological case of a partially broken DLP chip?
There's too many corner cases and (literally) moving pieces for this to really be practical.
Are the lasers bright enough to be a health risk? You wouldn't attach a high power laser pointer to a moving vehicle either.
Perhaps it can be coded to light up the torso and legs and leave the face in darkness.
Look at 1:50 for demonstration:
(it looks like this system can actually "flash" at the object in real life, it can be seen a bit further in that video)
Uh. What? Even recent model headlight assembly replacements that I can find are in the three-figure range, roughly $500 for a pair, and LED bulbs themselves are something like $125 for a pair. This is several times more expensive.
I guess I'm not "Most people" because I have desired more light since I got my license.
I've installed 100w Hella Euro projector lights for straight-line distance (appropriately calibrated as to not blind incoming traffic); and replaced my foglights (not particularly useful in Toronto, Canada) with corner beams - short distance, wide spread, installed at 45 degree angle, so I can illuminate slow speed turns into dark abyss that many drivways, hwy off-ramps, or small city streets are. At night on country roads, I never ever think "well, that's enough, I don't need more light".
This comment gave me a chuckle: The Motor Cycle.....every one ever built has at least one.
I'll be really sad to see cameras replace mirror on cars.
I am almost positive they are the same backup camera. The higher resolution screen shows better detail and light. I’ll look up the part number on Mopar when I get home but I’m sure the sensor is the same.
Chevy Suburban ~2012
And I wish we wouldn't; on average, 2019 cars seem to have far worse rear and rear-corner visibility than 2005 cars, and cameras are no replacement. They are either too low res, too narrow of a FOV (minimizing situational awareness), and even if they are perfect, 2 minutes driving in slush/mud/rain makes them useless.
/grouch grouch grumble grumble :)
In all seriousness, I see value of cameras complementing visibility (especially for low-height obstacles when reversing), but the current trend of replacing visibility leads into far less overall safety.
Plus you still need some headlights for non-augmented cars to see you.
I think glare is probably now a higher risk than lack of light, for normal road driving with lights, especially given the emergence of the SUV with higher beams and higher physical lamp placement.
Off road? specialist/military? Sure. I can see that this kind of light would be hugely beneficial. for milspec usage, it might even have a dual function (ie deliberate dazzle)
But for routine use, I need to see legislative control on bad effects of lights on cars, to match obligations to meet minimums in light levels
(the article does talk about how lasers could be directed away from drivers, so there is hope this is a minimize dazzle thing)
How do they avoid laser speckle?
Near the end of the article is a diagram of the new SDL (Dr. Shuji Nakamura's new company) laser diode, phosphor, and beam dump in an SMD package.
Laser speckle has nothing to do with your headlight plastic.
Example: fused-silica glass with a sapphire coating.
That would be a really nice flashlight to own
I see what you did there.