Saturday, February 10, 2007

Headlights Are Heading Towards Brighter Illumination by Glady Reign

The latest headlights technology shapes the future of tomorrow's cars. And based on the recently launched vehicles, headlights will be brighter, fancier and even more reliable.
Fancy headlights have also invaded concept cars. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Concept, for instance, featured headlights with neon crackle-tube indicators that produces a lightning-bolt effect. The newest headlights come in different sizes and shapes. They are those that appear like "fire" lightning bolts inside the headlight housing.
Headlights play a significant role in the styling and appearance of vehicles. However, its major contribution is lodged on the safety aspect. Safety officials estimate more than 80 percent of the information a driver needs comes to him visually. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in Washington D.C., about 42 percent of all crashes and 58 percent of fatal crashes in the United States occur at night or during other degraded visibility conditions. The 2.8 million annual reported crashes, including 23,000 fatal crashes, represent incidents in which reduced visibility may be a contributing factor.
Lately, the NHTSA has been reviewing federal headlamp standards that date back decades. The agency intended to update lighting rules over the next few years. A number of issues are calling some attention like the glare, bluish light from HIDs that bother some non-HID drivers, and how high headlights should be mounted on tall-riding vehicles such as trucks and SUVs.
The most significant changes in the automotive headlights history will pave way for a brighter auto illumination future. Tracking the history of headlights, it can be ascertained that they were not part of the very first cars - the horseless carriages in late 1800s. The latter also have no roofs, windshields and steering wheels. They came into automotive scene in early part of 1885.
Headlights, powered by acetylene gas, were added to extend a travel to late hours of the day. It was only in 1905 when the first electric headlamp became the norm. Sealed beam lights in the 70's were replaced by halogen headlamps in the 80's. However, the introduction of such technology was confronted by a number of objections. Consumers said they were expensive and that the illumination was distracting. When high-intensity discharge (HID) lights were featured in some cars, same complaints were yielded.
HID lights include mercury vapor, metal halide, high-pressure sodium, low-pressure sodium and, the less common, xenon short-arc lamps. The light producing element of HID is an arc discharge in an arc tube. Compared to incandescent and fluorescent lights, HID lights produce a much higher quantity of light per unit area.
Visteon, a headlight manufacturer, said the HID projector headlamps on the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette deliver about double the light output of the average halogen headlamp. HID lights, also called xenon headlamps, draw less power from the car's electrical system. Thus, the 2005 Corvette saves 42 watts for the low beam. At present, luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Infiniti offer HIDs. Said lights are also found on many luxury sport utility vehicles these days.
The most recent headlight trend is the light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs use semiconductors to discharge electrical energy in the form of light. They do not use filament or gas like the conventional headlamps. LEDs are now used on the Volvo headlight as well as other headlights used by other luxury models. Part of recent auto lighting technology is digital lighting, which allows cycling and alternating colors and intensities in patterns. They could also be made responsive to music being played in the car.
Another new headlight technology is headlight beams in digital format that are controlled by a computer. "Instead of talking about a lot of light all over [the road], we want to put smart light out where you need the light," said Mahendra Dassanayake, staff technical specialist at Ford Motor Co. "It would work like a laptop computer, projecting images."

About the Author
Glady Reign is a 32 year old is a consultant for an automotive firm based in Detroit, Mi. she is a native of the motor city and grew up around cars hence her expertise in the automotive field.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home