Ford is currently trialling new headlight technology that enables the projection of information on the road ahead of the vehicle for the driver to see, in order to help them keep their vision on the road ahead.
These high-resolution headlights can project information such as directions, speed limits or weather on to the road surface ahead of the vehicle, in order for the driver to be able to receive said information while having their field of view remain on the road in front of them. This is to help mitigate some of risk of night-time driving, as 40% of collision take place in the darkness in the United Kingdom, says Ford.
For example, a vehicle travelling at 90 km/h is covering ground at a rate of 25 metres each second, which means that even a short glance at a navigation screen in the vehicle could result in “driving blind” for a distance of 10 metres or more, the carmaker said. On an unlit or poorly lit road, this could mean missing a junction, road sign, or a bend.
Projection of information on to the road surface using these high-resolution headlights can also benefit other road users, for example by projecting the graphics of a crosswalk on the road in instances where the road marking have faded or are otherwise unclear.
Other possibilities may also include showing the driver a path to follow in order to pass cyclists at a safe distance, projecting the width of the vehicle on to the road to aid in safe passage through a gap or parking space, as well as information on adverse road conditions such as snowfall, icy roads or other slippery conditions.
“What started as playing around with a projector light and a blank wall could take lighting technologies to a whole new level. There’s the potential now to do so much more than simply illuminate the road ahead, to help reduce the stress involved in driving at night. The driver could get essential information without ever needing to take their eyes off the road,” said Lars Junker, who is in charge of ADAS features and software at Ford Europe.