ADB is becoming more and more popular. Everybody knows that compared to any low beam the high beam function provides much more visibility distance, so a full-time (glare-free) high beam is a big push towards nighttime traffic safety.
Unfortunately, the path to U.S. allowance for ADB is even more tangled up than was estimated some months ago. There are two proposals in the pipeline, the one worked out by SAE at NHTSA’s request (J3069) which NHTSA then rejected, and the agency’s own proposal put forth in their 2018 NPRM. Looking at the various reactions to it filed in the short period allowed, it seems unlikely the NHTSA proposal can be pushed through into the regulations without drastic and massive changes to bring it closer to realistic feasibility. All of this creates a strange situation: one of the two proposals does not work, and the other one is not liked.
Outside the U.S., in China two different approaches want to rate headlamps, but both concentrate on low beam. The question is why low beams are still at the forefront of safety attention now in the age of ADB which is so much better for the very simple reason that they give much longer visibility and more visibility means better safety. Even a weak high beam outperforms the most perfectly aimed best low beam in terms of visibility distance, lux, and candela—its only drawback is the glare to other traffic participants, and ADB surgically eliminates that drawback.
So it might be helpful to combine ADB in a new solution: an extension of the TC4-45 headlamp rating system published 2011 by CIE. The New Headlamp Safety Performance Rating System has been discussed in GTB and will be part of the VISION 2020 conference. It will combine low beam, high beam, and ADB and will also respect the different use case scenarios. And, most importantly, it is based on TC4-45 and UN R123 ADB descriptions—both accepted standards.
ADB exists since 2010. At the last DVN U.S. Workshop in January 2019, a conservative calculation estimated that about 1.4 million cars were at that time driving around with ADB and without any complaints, recalls or adverse administrative attention about the ADB at all. This car fleet of more than 50 car models drives about 5.8 billion kilometres at night, per year. This is definitely a large-scale field test. Clearly, ADB systems according to UN R123 are working. We should use the new rating system to evaluate the safety performance and move past outdated low-beam-only thinking.
So: yes. A reliable figure of merit for headlamp safety performance is coming.
Michael Hamm, in charge of headlamp development at Audi
And don’t forget to see the first chapter “the History of Lighting” of our video series titled the Wonderful Story of Automotive Lighting which we introduced last week.