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Hella Provides First Enhanced High-Beam Headlamps to Mercedes

PLYMOUTH, Mich.--Hella will supply Mercedes-Benz with the world’s first continuously adjustable headlamps. Available as an option in Europe on the company’s 2010 Mercedes E-Class models, the new system adjusts a vehicle’s headlamps to traffic conditions and provides drivers with the best possible road illumination without blinding oncoming vehicles.

“Jointly developed by Hella and Daimler engineers, the Mercedes’ ‘Intelligent High Beam Assistant’ system uses a camera mounted on the windshield to detect oncoming traffic or vehicles traveling ahead,” said Steffen Pietzonka, vice president of Marketing for Hella Lighting. “The headlamps are controlled so that the light cone ends before reaching other vehicles.”

The “intelligent high-beam assistant” automatically switches to high-beam when the road ahead is clear. As soon as vehicles are detected within 2,600 feet, the equipment adjusts the range of the headlamps within milliseconds. High- to low-beam adjustments are activated once the driver reaches 35 miles per hour.

The usual range of the low-beam is 213 feet, however, the new system can provide the driver with light up to the high-beam level, increasing the range of the headlamps to 984 feet, or the length of two- and three-quarters football fields.

In the new E-Class, Mercedes offers the new lighting system in an option group that includes Bi-Xenon headlamps, the Intelligent Light System and LED daytime running lights.

“This new adaptive, high-beam technology makes nighttime travel safer,” noted Pietzonka. “Tests conducted during the product development phase confirmed that, despite oncoming traffic, the new system detected groups of pedestrians on the side of the road within 853 feet. This is 492 feet earlier than with conventional low-beam headlamps.”

The “intelligent high-beam assistant” also reduces strain on the driver by letting him focus on the task of driving instead of manually operating the high-beam control.

“The system depends on the interaction of image-producing sensors, powerful software for image processing and state-of-the-art lighting technology,” Pietzonka explained.

The Mercedes E-Class technology is a further refinement of an earlier “high-beam assistant” system, combining Hella’s “dynamic bend lighting,” which nearly doubles the range of low-beam lights, and Advanced Frontlighting System (AFS), featuring a VarioX headlamp module.

In 2006, Mercedes-Benz pioneered the AFS technology in the E-Class, calling it “Intelligent Light System.”