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Opel Working on Headlights That Illuminate Where Your Eyes are Looking

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 3/20/2015 Jason Udy

Although adaptive headlights that swivel based on vehicle steering angle are common today, Opel is working on eye-tracking technology that adjusts the headlight’s direction and intensity based on where the driver is looking. Opel calls the new technology the third generation of automotive adaptive lighting. The automaker currently offers its AFL+ bi-xenon system and is working on LED matrix lights.

Opel Eye Tracking Technology© Provided by MotorTrend Opel Eye Tracking Technology

“We’ve been pursuing this concept of controlling the direction and intensity of light based on where the driver is looking for around two years,” said Ingolf Schneider, Director Lighting Technology at Opel, in a release. “The more we understand the benefits of this technology, the more intensively we push ahead with our joint project.”

Research

The new eye-tracking technology is a collaboration between the Opel International Technical Development Center and the Technical University of Darmstadt.

Initial tests were done with a simple webcam that watched the driver’s nose and eyes. Information was then used to control electronic actuators. While the system worked, the webcam’s slow recording rate couldn’t keep up with the driver’s movement.

A new camera with peripheral infrared sensors and central photo-diodes has been optimized for the eye tracking algorithm. The new camera scans the driver’s eyes more than 50 times per second in low light conditions, according to Opel. Faster processing speed is said to control the headlight actuators instantaneously. The system has been calibrated to recognize the difference between the eye’s natural movements and a more focused glance.

“To overcome this problem, we have successfully developed a sophisticated delay algorithm which ensures a suitably flowing movement for the light cone,” said Schneider. “Another major benefit is that the eye-tracker doesn’t have to be individually calibrated for a particular driver. The system works perfectly with anyone behind the wheel, no matter what their size.”

Opel Working on Headlights That Illuminate Where Your Eyes are Looking

Additionally, the vehicle’s low beam lighting always shines at the road ahead to illuminate any potential road hazards.

Opel’s current AFL+ lighting system uses HID headlights with the Opel Eye front camera, which can adapt to 10 different lighting functions based on road and weather conditions as well as driver inputs such as steering angle and speed. Other features include automatic high-beams.

The automaker is also set to introduce its LED matrix light that is said to provide adaptive glare-free high-beam lighting. Similar to the system developed by Audi, it can control individual LEDs to shut off so as not to blind oncoming traffic, while leaving other LEDs on to illuminate the road ahead. Opel says the LED matrix lighting technology will be available in about 18 months.

Source: Opel

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