Maximum Light for Maximum Safety

High-performance LED main beams more than double the range of conventional ones (Source: Volkswagen)

Innovative Volkswagen lighting technology is helping to boost safety. At the same time, it is also opening the door to increasingly personalized vehicle design. At an international workshop, the car maker was showcasing how the lighting systems of the future will communicate and increase safety even further.

Its engineers and designers use all of the technology available to them to improve safety with innovative lighting technology. One of their goals is to enhance the lighting functions in current vehicles and, as a result, improve road safety in the present day. This development work has culminated in the IQ. Light matrix LED headlights in the new Touareg, for example, which improve comfort and safety when driving at night. However, lighting designers and engineers have an eye on the future, too. The assisted driving cars of tomorrow will confront road users with new everyday situations – such as a lack of eye contact with drivers.

Wet conditions, fog, deer crossing – drivers face particular challenges in autumn and winter. The latest lighting systems which almost perfectly illuminate the road are proving helpful. (Source: Volkswagen)

This is where new, interactive lighting functions come into play. The new lighting systems will include micro-pixel HD headlights with up to 30,000 light points and high-performance LED headlights as a low-cost alternative to cost-intensive laser light. For the first time, these micro-pixel HD headlights will project information directly onto the road, further improving safety.

This technology also enables new assist systems such as “optical lane assist” to be brought to life. In this system, the headlights project lanes in front of the Touareg, giving the driver precise information about the width of the vehicle (including trailer) and the distance to the road lane markings, for example at road works. The lanes also follow the radii of curves. Such useful and safety-enhancing lighting functions are being tested with the HD-LCD headlights.

New systems such as the matrix tail light cluster will also revolutionize tail lights. Matrix tail light clusters will allow warnings to be incorporated into the tail lights, for example, enabling dangerous situations, like the area at the end of a traffic jam, to be defused using car-to-car communication. New assist functions, such as the micro-lens-based “optical park assist” system, will improve safety while maneuvering. This system will be able to project the vehicle’s path onto the road to alert passers-by to the parking process.

The interactive matrix tail lightt clusters allow for a customized car signature, warnings or status displays like charging levels. (Source: Volkswagen)

To make sure it is suitably prepared for the challenges of the future, Volkswagen has opened its own centre of lighting excellence at the Wolfsburg plant. A 100 meter long, 15 meter wide and 5 meter high light tunnel has been in operation there since then in the research & development division. In this tunnel, Volkswagen is using road simulations to test its lighting systems for today, tomorrow and beyond using road simulations. The tests can be reproduced and repeated. As a result, systems can be compared and evaluated in a light tunnel better than ever before. The center of lighting excellence is also an ideal place to investigate how drivers and pedestrians perceive light. The light tunnel has also reduced the development time for new headlight, tail light and interior lighting systems, as the number of time-consuming night drives can now be reduced. Progress in light development can thus be implemented even more quickly into series production technology – increasing safety for the benefit of all road users. (Source: Volkswagen)

Link: VW Group Research, Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg, Germany

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