The Future of Exterior Lighting
Monday, 22 July 2019

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Several trends have been identified, both in society and in the automotive industry: urbanisation and mega cities, the burgeoning sharing economy including car sharing and ride sharing, environmental protection and sustainability, ageing population, ADAS, AVs and EVs, digitalisation, communication, AI, and the world's various zero-crash initiatives.

There will be an indefinitely long period during which human-driven, semi-autonomous, and autonomous vehicles will share the world's roadways. The basic see-and-be-seen functions will be joined by an element of sophisticated communications surpassing that of today's vehicle lighting systems, and it seems attractive and efficient for the industry to have a globally harmonised regulation system. It may well happen that some major regional markets will not wait for others, and will go ahead with local regulations that might be in conflict with those of other regions, or with developing international consensus on the matter.

Relevant trends include:
1. ADB (Adaptive Driving Beam, also called glare-free high beam)
We predict that ADB prevalence will grow from 1% in 2016 to 15% by 2025, assuming worldwide regulatory acceptance. There will be de luxe high-end systems and entry-level basic applications. ADB offers great benefits in safety and convenience for many driving conditions; however, to bolster ADB uptake and prevalence, additional work must be done to identify and create additional user benefits for use in mega-cities where traffic flows at speeds below the activation threshold for many of today's systems.

2. Communication functions
Exterior lighting is moving from the basic functions to the level of being a major safety communication tool. New communication with light will provide additional safety and convenience. Road projections, animations, and pictograms will play an important role in how to communicate. This kind of new communication will be one of the most important areas contributing to the growth of vehicular lighting in the next decade.

3. Dynamic signal lights
The main current trend is to introduce more animated signals and otherwise unconventional light-in-motion effects. Animation is already allowed for turn signals, and for ARS (Adaptive Rear-lighting Systems) with the possibility to enlarge or brighten the lit area in accord with prevailing conditions. In the next decade, communication and safety needs will drive increased application of light-in-motion effects, that is if, as, and when regulations will change to permit it.

4. Styling
Styling will remain a prime driver led by appearance differentiation, dynamics, and signature with new styling and technology.

As to light sources, LED will be the dominant technology for front and rear lights on vehicles.
Laser with the current application as long range beam will remain a niche application, but in combination with a scanning system (Laser + MEMS) for projection, broader opportunities will come up in the first half of next decade.
OLED shows no clear indications that it will become a mainstream light source for rear lighting.

The value chain is changing with the increase of the gap between future requirements by automakers on advanced lighting systems and currently-available capabilities and resources at tier-1 lighting suppliers. New large suppliers ("super integrators" or "tier-0.5" suppliers) may integrate current tier-1 lighting suppliers in their activities, or via other forms of new coöperation.


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