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Adaptive headlights

Here you will find useful information and handy tips relating to AFS headlamps, which stands for Advanced Front Lighting System.

The classic low beam is in fact a compromise solution, and it's not without its weaknesses. Thanks to its new light functions, the Advanced Front Lighting System (AFS) eliminates the rigid boundaries of the low beam, thereby significantly improving visibility in the dark and in poor weather. HELLA's VarioX technology forms the basis for this. On this page you will find out which new light functions have been made possible by AFS and what advantages they bring.

Important safety note
The following technical information and practical tips have been compiled by HELLA in order to provide professional support to vehicle workshops in their day-to-day work. The information provided on this website is intended for use by suitably qualified personnel only.

 

VARIABLE LIGHT FUNCTIONS: BASIC PRINCIPLES

The automotive lighting technology industry has been working to ensure optimal illumination of traffic areas for many years. On the one hand, the road and its surroundings should be illuminated as brightly as possible, so that the driver can safely recognise objects in the traffic area. On the other hand, other road users and the driver themselves should not be dazzled. As such, one of the focal areas for HELLA's lighting technology specialists is to figure out the best way to reconcile, or even eliminate, the conflicting objectives of ensuring excellent illumination while eliminating glare for both the driver and other road users.

 

The classic solution is switching between high beam and low beam. While the high beam provides a light distribution optimised for illuminating the road, the low beam is a kind of compromise solution to avoid glare. Therefore, the combination high beam/low beam does not represent the optimal state-of-the-art solution when it comes to safety during nighttime driving. A simple, obvious improvement in adverse weather conditions would be to equip the vehicle with special auxiliary headlamps, such as fog lamps, which can be turned on or off by the driver according to the situation. The next step would be to not implement these additional lighting functions as individual auxiliary headlamps, but to integrate them into the main headlamps and to make the switch between various light distributions automatic. This is the basic concept of AFS headlamp systems (Advanced Front Lighting System).

ADAPTIVE HEADLIGHTS: FUNCTION

Advanced Frontlighting System (AFS)

The low beam is merely a compromise solution between all partial light distribution options. Therefore, the Advanced Front Lighting System was developed as a dynamic lighting system that allows for the best possible illumination of the road according to speed and steering angle. To implement it, a VarioX® projection module with a rotating cylinder between light source and lens is required. The cylinder is characterised by the fact that it has varying contours and can also rotate around its own longitudinal axis. A stepper motor turns the cylinder to the required position within milliseconds.

TOWN LIGHT

The town light, which is activated at speeds up to 55 km/h, features a horizontal cut-off line to minimise glare for other road users. The wide illumination of the area in front of the vehicle also makes it easier to detect pedestrians at the side of the road.*

COUNTRY LIGHT

The country light is activated between 55 and 100 km/h and is similar to conventional low beam light distribution. The VarioX® module generates an asymmetric light distribution so that glare for oncoming traffic can be avoided. The cut-off line is raised in order to illuminate the left edge of the road more and to achieve a greater range.*

HIGHWAY LIGHT

The highway light is activated at speeds above 100 km/h. The range of the light distribution is adapted to high curve radii at high speeds.*

HIGH BEAM

The high beam of the AFS works like a conventional high beam, But does not require the driver to take action to avoid exposing other road users to excessive glare.

BEND LIGHTING

The Advanced Front Lighting System also has a dynamic bend lighting function. Depending on the steering angle, the headlamps also swivel by up to 15° and allow optimised illumination of the bend.

ADVERSE WEATHER LIGHT

The adverse weather light creates a wider dispersion of the light to improve visibility in rain, fog, or snow. This feature also reduces far-field illumination to minimise reflective glare affecting the driver’s own vehicle.

* The listed speeds may differ according to the manufacturer.

 

AFS headlamp systems make it possible to achieve discrete predefined light distributions. The adaptation of the light distribution is dependent on the vehicle speed, the road type, and weather conditions, which represents an enormous improvement over conventional vehicle lighting technology.

 

As such, HELLA's engineers all agree on one thing: The ideal way to implement such a situation-dependent automatic headlamp system is to use the VarioX® module. This allows a single xenon light source to generate up to five different light distributions: Besides conventional low beam and high beam, this allows for town, highway, and adverse weather lights with the same headlamp module.

VARIOX® TECHNOLOGY

The VarioX® technology is based on the projection principle. Between the light source and the lens, there is a spinning free-form cylinder that can be rotated around its longitudinal axis. The outer surface of the cylinder has different contours that allow the generation of different light distributions on the road. These contours, as well as the entire geometry of the cylinder can be adapted to OEM specifications.

 

In order to implement AFS systems and camera-based light functions, the VarioX® module is combined with a special swiveling module. It it extraordinarily quiet and offers not only a high swivel speed and precise positioning, but also a compact design and low swivel mass.