How Digital Lighting Will Further Revolutionize Automotive Lighting
With the integration of LED technology, lighting has evolved from a basic, functional feature to a distinctive feature with high-value potential in automotive. Indeed, LED technology has given manufacturers the opportunity for strong differentiation via lighting design and additional functionalities. This is particularly true for exterior lighting which is under deep mutation (in terms of both technology and supply chain). Indeed, the integration of new Solid State Lighting (SSL) technologies is transforming automotive front lighting, RCL (…) systems and their applications, offering more design flexibility, increased efficacy, and new functionalities.
LEDs are rapidly gaining popularity as their cost decreases and performance increases (i.e. efficiency, luminance, package size). For example, full LED headlamps that first saw commercialization in 2008 on luxury cars like the V10 Audi R8 have since penetrated the C-segment vehicle market in 2012 (with the new Seat Leon), and are now being commercialized in emerging markets. Nowadays, nearly all OEMs/Tier-1s have developed full LED-based headlamp systems.
Laser and OLED sources are still emerging technologies but could also support the development of new functionalities: laser-based headlamps could enable long-distance night vision (up to 600m) whereas OLED RCL will match with a design shift from 2D to 3D light source (made possible by the nature of the OLED device itself).
Integration of these new semiconductor/electronic-based components is also enabling the realization of full electronic systems (i.e. Solid State Light + sensor + software), and by extension the development of advanced lighting functionalities. The main objective of these functionalities is to offer beam patterns that automatically adjust to the driving environment. Recently, the use of matrix LED systems combined with camera and image processing functions has allowed for creation of new lighting functions like adaptive front lighting and glare-free lighting. And such evolution toward full electronic systems is opening a new era/revolution for automotive lighting ⇒ The implementation of digital light to further enhance the value of lighting.
In a global way, digital light represents high resolution front lighting systems which offer the possibility to develop new low and high beam functions, to increase road safety and driver’s comfort, and make automotive lighting more intelligent. Additionally, this trend of digitalization is supported by the development of autonomous driving (i.e.: ADAS) as lighting could serve as a communication tool with the environment of the car (e.g.: car-to-pedestrian communication…).
Today, digital lighting is a key area of investigation for the automotive lighting supply chain as it represents the future of automotive lighting, but several barriers have still to be overcome (e.g.: technology, manufacturing, regulation…). Those challenges will be reinforced as digital light will even more increase the relation between lighting, automotive sensors and data processing.
During our presentation, we will make a review of automotive lighting evolution and highlights recent development in this field. We will then focus on current trends and development of digital light, highlighting: potential applications, lighting technologies under development (e.g.: µAFS, LCD, DMD…), barriers to be overcome (e.g.: development of advanced light control unit and electronic architecture…) (…), impact on traditional supply chain (e.g.: increased interaction of OEMs/Tier-1s with Tier-2s/Tier-3s…).