Opel readies eye-tracking headlight technology:

If you’ve driven cars with intelligent adaptive headlight systems, you’ll know they’re pretty nifty things – adjusting lighting around corners and bending light around oncoming cars, pedestrians etc.  Opel’s getting on the bandwagon now developing intelligent LED headlighting technologies; but instead of the usual computer guided lights, Opel is working on eye-tracking technology that allows you to guide the headlights simply by looking where you want them to be directed.


The new eye-tracking technology isn’t just science-fiction though – it’s becoming a reality as far as Opel are concerned.  The technology is set to debut in series production in the next generation of Opel vehicles, after the debut of their new LED matrix light that will soon be available on several models.


Opel has been developing the system for the past 2 years, and are intensively pushing ahead with the idea.  Originally, a simple webcam was used to track key facial features such as the nose and eyes of drivers, relaying the information to computers which calculated the change in direction of the line of sight, and adjusted the projector headlamps accordingly.  This process was slow though – the computers taking too long to process inputs and respond accordingly.


Optimising the camera’s operating parameters and the eye-tracking algorithm has brought the breakthrough though – making the reaction time quick enough to be used effectively on the road.  The camera is now equipped with infrared sensors and central photo diodes which scan the driver’s eyes more than 50 times a second in dusk and night-time conditions.  Together with much faster processing and transmission of data, the headlamp actuators react near on instantly, making both horizontal and vertical adjustments.


Another problem that presented itself was the natural tendency for the human eye to rapidly jump from one focal point to another in order to achieve a broad view of the surroundings.  By following this action, the headlights were found to jump about erratically.  Opel has overcome this though, by developing a specific algorithm that ensures smooth flow in the change of direction of the headlights.  This new algorithm also means that drivers of any size can ‘get in and go’ without driver-specific calibration of the system required.


This technology will work in conjunction with Opel’s AFL+ variable lighting system available on many current models, such as the newly launched Mokka.  The new tech will also work alongside Opel’s next-generation LED matrix light system – which will debut on future Opel models such as the forthcoming Astra K, which has already been spied with new LED head- and taillights – which will provide glare free high beam lighting, deactivating certain LED modules to avoid blinding oncoming traffic and illuminating the rest of the road surface.  The LED matrix system will be introduced within the next 18 months.


Whilst Opel is playing catch-up with the LED matrix technology – Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW have all had this tech for some time – the eye-tracking technology is a huge leap forward in headlight technology, and one that should signify Opel’s resurgence as a technical development powerhouse in the motoring industry.  It all sounds pretty futuristic, but to Opel fans it’ll be available soon, and that’s something to be pretty excited about.

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