In the future, will cars project essential information directly onto the road at night through their front lights? It is in any case a technology in development at Ford.
Head-up display devices are offered – still often as an option – by a number of car manufacturers. They provide easy access to various essential information (speed limit, navigation, etc.) without taking your eyes off the road. But at Ford, R&D goes even further, by imagining front lights which, in addition to lighting, are able to project information directly onto the road, in front of the vehicle. Thus, the driver could be assisted in his night driving by continuously looking at the road.
Lars Junker, who works on advanced driver assistance systems at Ford of Europe, explains that the very idea of these high-resolution lights “started around a game with a projector and a blank wall“.”It is already possible to do much more than simply illuminate the road in front of the vehicle, in order to help reduce the stress involved in driving at night. The driver could get essential information without ever having to take his eyes off the road“, he adds.
Some of the information Ford plans to project onto the road through the headlights includes upcoming obstacles, presence of a pedestrian crossing, next direction to take, current speed limit, course to follow to complete safe overtaking or weather and/or road condition information. For the manufacturer, the primary objective of this system is obviously safety. Ford indicates, with supporting statistics, that night driving is more risky and that at 90 km/h, 10 meters are traveled by a car with a simple glance at the dashboard.
For the time being, it is impossible for us to know if this technology will one day be deployed on commercial vehicles, knowing that the projection on the road is not approved and will undoubtedly be governed by changing regulations depending on the country. Thus, Ford clarifies that this feature “is currently being developed for testing purposes only and is being tested in controlled environments“.