Spotting pedestrians, cyclists and animals when driving at night can be a lottery – especially on poorly lit roads.
But Ford has revealed new lighting technologies to help drivers more easily identify potential hazards.
The brand’s camera-based Advanced Front Lighting System works by widening the beam at junctions and roundabouts to better light up hazards that aren’t in the direction of travel.
And new ‘spot lighting’ technology helps draw the driver’s attention to pedestrians, cyclists and even large animals in the vehicle’s path or just off the road.
Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering chief Ken Washington said: “Many people who drive at night have had to quickly react to someone or something suddenly appearing in the road – as if from nowhere.
“Our advanced Front Lighting System and Spot Lighting help ensure the driver is quickly alerted to people or animals that could present a danger.”
The system also uses GPS information to better illuminate bends and dips on a chosen route.
Where GPS information is not available the technology uses a video camera mounted in the rear-view mirror base to detect lane markings and predict the road’s curvature, using the info to light the area more effectively.
The camera also stores the info in the sat-nav so that when the next driver uses the same road, the headlights automatically adapt to better light the way.
Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting System was developed at Ford’s European Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany, and Ford expects the technology to be available for customers soon.
Spot Lighting – currently in the pre-development phase – uses an infra-red camera in the front grille to locate and track up to eight people and bigger animals at a range of up to 120 metres.
The system can spotlight two hazards for the driver with a spot and a stripe on the road surface, lit by two LED lamps next to the fog lights.
The highlighted objects are displayed on the screen inside the car, marked in a red or yellow frame, depending on the proximity of the object and level of danger.