Magneti Marelli Debuts Computer-Controlled Headlamp

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Posted: August 2, 2013 at 1:55 am

A new headlamp system from Magneti Marelli SpA uses three computer chips, a forward-looking camera, dual beams, internal shutters and an array of 55 light-emitting diodes to project illumination that continually varies to suit driving conditions.

The so-called LFX system also incorporates twin “eyebrow” strips of LEDs—one yellow and one white—that serve as turn signals and daytime running lights, respectively.

Magneti Marelli's all-LED dynamic headlamp system

The dynamic headlamp system is being introduced now as an option in European versions of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedan. The model’s standard headlamps employ a simpler static version of the system called e-Light.

The LFX system, which Magneti Marelli has been developing since 2009, continually blends output from “low” and “high” beam units. It can shift the entire beam pattern left and right, vary beam width and illuminate the road as far as 400 meters (1,300 ft) ahead.

Gerd Bahnmueller, Magneti Marelli’s director of R&D Europe and head of the Mercedes-Benz program, tells AutoTech Daily that such flexibility offers a broader range of functionality than any other production headlamp system to date.

Each LFX lamp module weighs about 5 kg (11 lbs) and contains 324 parts. The static e-Light version contains a mere 147 parts and cannot dynamically shape its beam patterns.

The non-dynamic basic lamp system requires only 15 watts to project a low beam, Bahnmueller says. The dynamic version consumes about 35 watts, approximately the same power required for xenon lamp systems. The company notes that older halogen-type lamps consume about 60 watts.

The LFX system, which must be configured for each application, is likely to spread to other Mercedes-Benz models over the next 12 months, according to Bahnmueller. He says some features of the system—moveable shutters used to shape the beam and block glare for oncoming traffic, for example—will be electronically deactivated for U.S. editions of the S-Class to comply with American headlamp standards.