Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that it is enhancing its driver-support technology for night driving by fitting a spotlight system to illuminate pedestrians in dark conditions.
The system’s existence was revealed to AEI recently, following a brief demonstration at the company’s newly enhanced Technology Center at Sindelfingen.
Now, Mercedes has decided to shed more light on it, announcing added details and stating that it will be available on a higher end model during 2011.
The whole Active Night View Assist Plus (ANVAP), of which the system is a part, incorporates a combination of functions including infrared (IR) headlamps, night vision and multipurpose cameras, an instrument cluster display, and from Q3 this year, spotlight headlights.
The spotlight system is activated when the driver selects Adaptive Highbeam Assist mode, which simply entails putting the headlight switch into the auto position and pushing the steering-wheel-mounted multifunction stalk to the main beam position.
ANVAP is then selected by pressing a button to engage the spotlight function, which triggers at speeds above 45 km/h (28 mph) and cuts out below 40 km/h (25 mph). A dashboard light indicates that it is functioning, and the driver can override and switch off the spotlight function if necessary.
The car’s IR system is able to detect pedestrians at up to an 80-m (260-ft) range, with two light sources in the headlamps illuminating the road with IR light. Mounted on the car’s windshield is an IR camera; its captured image is sent to a dashboard display.
If pedestrians are detected ahead of the car, they are highlighted in the display.
Another camera, which is used by the car’s Speed Limit Assist and Lane Keeping Assist systems, monitors whether the car is being driven in regular lighting conditions or darkness and records the position of other road users traveling in front or approaching.
The accrued information is then processed by an ECU, and if deemed necessary, any pedestrian detected is illuminated via flashes by the spotlight system.
To achieve variable light distribution, a groove is cut into the profile of the headlamps to create the spotlight effect.
The system varies its reaction according to surroundings. Out of a city environment or built-up streets, pedestrians are flashed up to four times if they are within the light cone. But if the car’s Adaptive Highbeam Assist is in dipped-beam mode, the pedestrian will be flashed by the spotlight beyond the dipped beam lit area.
If the main beam is in use, it remains on (depending on country of use) in the left-hand headlight, with the pedestrian being flashed by the right-hand headlight. The flashing headlight continues in dipped mode for five seconds to obviate pedestrian dazzle, but once the vehicle has passed the pedestrian, or he/she has moved away from the roadside, the headlight switches automatically to full beam.
Mercedes stresses that other road users are not subject to dazzle because pedestrian illumination does not take place when vehicles traveling in front or approaching are located in the same direction as a pedestrian.