Vauxhall/Opel is developing a system whereby you can control the headlights of your car just by your gaze. The system will be able to aim the vehicle’s headlights where the driver is looking. Researchers and engineers at Vauxhall/Opel are working on the eye-tracking technology which will, not only control the direction of the lights, but also the intensity of the beam. The new technology has been a joint collaboration between Vauxhall/Opel’s International Technical Development Center and the Technical University of Darmstadt.
The recent announcement said the system will be introduced after the current system goes into production. The latest working models are the AFL+ bi-xenon system, which features up to 10 lighting functions that are available in numerous Vauxhall and Opel models, and the company’s LED matrix light. The car manufacturers are hoping to roll out the new system in the long-term. The Director of Lighting Technology at Opel, Ingolf Schneider, said the team behind the technology have been working on the new system for approximately two years now.
The car’s camera is equipped with peripheral infra-red sensors and central photo-diodes. This type of tech enables the car to scan the driver’s eyes at a rate of more than 50 times per second in poorly lit conditions, such as at dusk and night-time. The unit is also equipped with a fast data processor and headlamp actuators that react instantly in order to make vertical and horizontal adjustments in the headlamp.
The company had a few problems to overcome before the system was ready. They came close a few times, but there was an issue with the tech achieving eye-control of the headlamps; the calculation of data took too long and the webcam’s recording rate was too slow to meet requirements of road-traffic conditions. There was eventually a breakthrough, when they were able to optimise the camera’s operating parameters and change the eye-tracking algorithm.
This was enough to overcome the problem of tracking a driver’s eyes that unconsciously jump from one focal point to something else. Because of this the headlamps would follow the movement precisely and the car’s light cone would jerk around in an erratic fashion.
The team worked on the “delay algorithm” to make sure there was a flowing movement for the light cone. With this change, the lighting would always be provided in the direction of travel and the low beam of the headlamps are programmed to ensure there is sufficient illumination.
What is really interesting about this technology is that it requires no recalibration when there are different drivers of the vehicle; the eye-tracker works with any driver.
The new Guiding Light system will be put into place in the next 18 months.
[Image via YouTube]