LCD headlamp with endless opportunities

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The use of LCDs in headlamps is a further step towards digitalizing lighting. It enables complex functions that will also be relevant to autonomous driving.

In the context of an research project, HELLA has developed a headlamp on the basis of a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) in collaboration with several partners. This technology is for example already known in the home entertainment field. Thanks to its great resolution and sharpness of detail, it opens up very new paths in automotive lighting technology.

LCD headlamp with complex functions

Overall, the new LCD headlamp projects 30,000 pixels onto the road. This allows adjusting the light pattern in an intelligent and continuous manner to various driving situations in real time. The use of an LC display is a further step towards digitalizing lighting. This means: the adaptation of the light pattern will increasingly be determined by software. The driver will obtain the best possible view of the road. Individual segments with e.g. other traffic participants or strongly reflecting street signs can be omitted or dimmed in a targeted manner. Highly complex functions are also conceivable: navigation arrows or lines showing the ideal lane can be projected onto the road. LCD technology enables functions that will also be relevant to autonomous driving.

LCD headlamp (Image: Hella)
An efficient polarization concept for the Liquid Crystal HD headlamp. (Image: Hella).

The LC display is the headlamp’s key component. It is situated between the LED light source and the projection lens. The display generates a matrix with 100 x 300 pixels that can be individually controlled and dimmed. A camera installed in the vehicle as well as a sensor optically reading distances and speeds (light detection and ranging sensor, LiDAR), will forward the ambient information to the headlamp control unit via a processor. This will then direct the individual display pixels up to 60 times per second. 25 high-power LED’s arranged in three rows will serve as light source. Each LED’s light intensity will be adjusted to the respective lighting situation.

Due to increasing traffic volumes and safety requirements, intelligent lighting systems are of increasing importance. LCD technology enables completely new functionalities and opportunities here. And the use is not limited to passenger cars. Other vehicle categories, such as commercial vehicles or buses also provide meaningful application areas.

The project

In the context of the research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) regarding the fully adaptive light distribution for intelligent, efficient and safe vehicle lighting (VoLiFa2020), HELLA has developed a headlamp on the basis of a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) in collaboration with project partners Merck, Institut für Großflächige Mikroelektronik IGM, Stuttgart University, Porsche, Elmos Semiconductor, Schweizer Electronic, and the University of Paderborn.

 

 

LCD headlamp (Image: Hella)

30,000 pixels allow image projections in addition to fully adaptive light distribution. (Image: Hella).