Ford develops infra-red camera-based advanced front lighting system

Ford Motor Co. is developing a new headlight technology capable of spotting individual obstacles on dark roads. It is always a nerve-wracking experience driving at night on dark roads, so to ease the driving, Ford came with this Camera-Based headlight.

Developed at Ford’s Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany, these lights are capable of spreading their beam at junctions and roundabouts. The technology is based on Adaptive Front Lighting System and Traffic Sign Recognition, which many luxury carmakers are offering, but Ford has an upper hand with more added features.

The headlights usually show what is directly in front of the car, and that’s not where most hazards are. Most potential hazards are found on the fringes of the roads. The Ford’s lighting system illuminates these hazards that are not in the direction of travel. The advanced lighting system uses infrared cameras to detect people or animals present on the unlit road by sensing their body heat. It points them out using two independent set of spot lights or spreading the main-headlight beam, if necessary.

GPS technology can also be combined with adaptive lighting, to enhance the illumination while approaching bends or corners. In the case when GPS is not available, the Traffic Sign Recognition system predicts the road and adjusts the headlight beams accordingly.

There’s a screen inside the car, which warns by providing additional information on road obstacles, and highlights them with yellow or red boxes depending on the level of risk they pose. They give a time-span of up to 2 or 3 seconds to the driver to take necessary action by braking or steering away, or both.

“Many people who drive at night have had to quickly react to someone or something suddenly appearing in the road – as if from nowhere. Ford’s Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting System and Spot Lighting help ensure the driver is quickly alerted to people or animals that could present a danger,” said Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.

A research by UK Government shows that one in five accidents in the UK takes place on unlit roads. Ford believes they can effectively reduce the number of accidents happening due to poor visibility, with this technology. A similar technology is also present in BMWs M-series cars, which uses military-grade infrared cameras in their cars.