By Daniel Stern • DVN Chief Editor
Shakespeare said "That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet". That's probably true. But technical nomenclature matters! In the lighting world, our regulations essentially answer that question—what's in a name?—for each and every device and function. What is a stop lamp? What is a reversing lamp? What is a lower/passing/dipped beam headlamp?
More to the point, what is ADB? What does it do? Most people reading this right now wouldn't have much difficulty answering those questions. For the general public, though, it's not so easy—especially in the United States, where ADB has, up to now, only been talked about in wistful articles about amazing European lights that aren't allowed by American regulations. So there's very little direct experience with any such a system in the US. Those who think about headlamps enough to care have formed opinions based on what they think they understand from the articles they've read, which in turn are often written by journalists or enthusiasts who themselves don't have such a firm grasp on the particulars.
At the centre of it all, perhaps, is the terminology issue: is ADB the same as glare-free high beam? Is it the same as Matrix Beam? Wait, why are we talking about this like it's a new thing? My 2011-model car has adaptive lights! This is a problem up (regulators) and down (car buyers) the line; there's confusion about which terms mean what, which ones are synonymous and which aren't, which ones denote actual, functional differences and which ones are marketing names. At the DVN US Workshop in 2013, NHTSA representatives fairly pleaded with the lighting community to get our terminological ducks in a row. American regulators have made it clear to us that they are willing to listen, but only if we speak to them in a unified, clear voice. They don't want a repeat of the mess they had to slog through when trying to figure out how to effectively define and regulate vehicle stability systems—a mess created by every automaker pushing their own name for the system.