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Technical survey and regulations
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.

 

 
Regulatory Report: The Evolution of Lighting Regulations Worldwide
Monday, 24 June 2019

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The past 10 years have brought a major shift in attitude and approach to vehicle lighting regulation and this has been the result of intense pressure to facilitate innovation offering significant improvements in road safety. Regulation was long considered as something of a necessary evil, best left to specialists in the certification-and-approval departments of vehicle manufacturers and their equipment suppliers, but now it is high on the priority list of development engineers who understand that good innovation depends upon good regulation to succeed commercially.
There has also been a notable change in attitude toward the effects of regulatory approach and policy upon trade. National regulations were focused on development and protection of markets, with technical provisions justified as being necessary due to local conditions. But as international trade in motor vehicles increases, a patchwork of national technical requirements impedes the process of harmonisation necessary for the successful negotiation of international trade deals.

This report aims to describe changes in attitude toward regulation, its differentiation from standardisation, and the changes underway around the world. There is a clear distinction between the development of global technical requirements and the politics of how they can be implemented into national regulation. It is important to understand the implications and the actions that industry needs to implement if we are to avoid barriers to beneficial innovations widely, practically, and affordably reaching the world's roads.

This report focuses on the main issues facing global harmonisation and synchronisation of the technical requirements. It also details the changes underway in the UNECE, the EU, China, Korea, and the USA and introduces new topics such as the lighting requirements of AVs (autonomous vehicles).

The final section of the report provides the author's thoughts on the whole process of regulation from the standpoint of innovation requiring good regulation in order to succeed, with the aim of prompting further discussion. The latest news from GRE concerning the question of lighting for autonomous vehicles is included.

 

 
Materials in Vehicle Lighting
Tuesday, 04 June 2019

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When we talk about lighting, very often we are speaking about performance, intelligent lighting, communication, size, and design. This is natural, as these characteristics are central to the main safety and style functions of car lights as directly seen by the final customers. But to achieve these results, a lot of hidden work is done upstream, especially with the materials integrated for the realisation of lighting systems.

A great big variety of material is required to build today's advanced lighting systems, unlike past lamps made of glass and steel, glass and a single type of plastic, one type of polycarbonate and one type of plastic, or even just glass alone in the case of the sealed beam headlamp. Plastics have now supplanted many other materials—we have polypropylene and ABS and PEI for lamp housings, thermoset or polycarbonate for reflectors, polycarbonate and PMMA for lenses, and so on. A long evolution, sometimes needing changes to the regulations, was necessary to go from yesterday's thick and heavy glass and steel lamps to today's thinner, lighter, and more variously styled products.

This evolution is far from finished. As rules are becoming more and more restrictive for CO2 emissions, weight is again a decisive factor. In their last report in 2018, the European Federation for Transport and Environment estimated that each increase of 12.4 kg in a car means another 1 g/km of CO2. Each additional g/km of CO2 is becoming so expensive for car makers that new solutions to decrease the weight of parts, including lighting systems, is urgently required. And so the materials industry steps up to help set makers and car makers achieve their lightweighting targets.

But plastic material are not the only ones used. Heat sinks for LEDs are often made of aluminium or magnesium; glass and silicones are often used for the most advanced matrix beams' primary optics; selectively-permeable membranes are necessary for efficient condensation control, and many other small components and subcomponents contain other-than-plastic materials. And that's not even to mention the materials used in construction of LEDs, OLEDs, lasers, and other suchlike—those materials are outside the scope of this present report.

After a brief history, this report presents the main materials used currently in vehicle lighting with their main properties. It describes the material needs for the main parts of lighting systems, and the technical and economic benefits and drawbacks for the various material choices. For each type of material, main suppliers are outlined; some of them are more comprehensively presented in the last chapter, and there are interviews with managers.

So, we wish you an enjoyable and informative reading of this report. It may be a bit on the long side, but it's packed with information usually not readily available about materials for vehicle lighting.

 
Automotive Cameras for Lighting and Vision Systems
Tuesday, 31 July 2018

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ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) and AD (autonomous driving) are now some of the main directions for the automotive industry to improve safety and comfort for drivers and road users.

These systems depend on sensors to gather information processed by sophisticated computers. Currently—and likely for quite a while—cameras are the main sensors used, as they can give a reasonably precise view of the environment at an affordable cost. Other sensors found on cars include radars, lidars, and sonars. Radars are often used for functions such as AEB (automatic emergency braking) and BSD (blind spot detection). Lidars are just emerging for front detection, and sonars are mainly used for parking assistance. These sensors are chosen for specific functions or to improve the reliability of the information given by cameras, but none has the versatility of cameras, which are thus indispensable for ADAS and autonomous driving. There is also a cost factor, and cameras are competitive in that sense; low-range cars, because of their build cost constraints, tend to use only cameras to drive some very useful functions for safety as AEB. Medium-range cars' systems still use cameras, but bolster performance and accuracy with radars and rangers that are usually simplified lidar with one beam. And high-range cars are beginning to use lidar, though at this point it remains very expensive. The development of autonomous cars at levels 4 and 5 will likely see the use of cameras, radars, and lidars jointly in the same car for redundancy, which is obligatory to achieve adequate safety performance and dependability.

The global market for cameras is currently dominated by the smartphone market with roughly 90% of applications. The market for automotive cameras was around USD $2bn and 10% of the global camera market in 2016, but the automotive camera market is now growing much more rapidly at a rate of 20% per year in volume. Present projections have the market reaching 800 million cameras in 2030. This market is pulled by end users' strong interest in the real safety benefits of ADAS and AD, and it is pushed by the assessments and regulations already applied or under preparation in different countries.

Front cameras are the most complex ones in automotive service, and Yole estimate their market value at $10bn by 2030. Other cameras, particularly surround cameras, are forecast to make another $10bn market in 2030.

Technical progress for cameras is under way on all their main components. The optics will shrink, perhaps with plastic lenses if thermal issues can be solved, or even with no more lenses over the longer term. The sensors will come to have higher definition, much above the current best 8-megapixel level. We'll see more and more sophisticated solutions integrating several sensors working together for enhanced possibilities, for instance with 3D, distance measurement, very high sensitivity towards quantum imaging counting each photon, and multispectral systems for better recognition of objects. We're also likely to see image processing and, more generally, sensor fusion systems and artificial intelligence becoming one of the most differentiating factors of competitivity, given that many actors such as the leader Intel/Mobileye are investing hugely in R&D.

 
Vehicle Lighting in Japan
Monday, 21 May 2018

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In the adoption of new technologies, the balance of benefits versus cost is decisive. That's why some of the latest innovations like high definition matrix beam, laser, and OLED are not yet widely applied by Japanese car makers. However, Japanese industry has developed a lot of innovations for concrete realisations of compact and efficient LEDs systems, for instance the new bi-function modules with no fan developed by Koito for many models of Toyota, or the direct-lens optical system developed by Ichikoh for the Nissan Leaf. Also interesting innovations to propose new style for instance with the double-reflection lenses developed by Stanley for Honda headlamps. Japanese car makers and set makers are in the worldwide race for ADB with a highly performant second generation, with 24 LEDs in two rows for the Toyota-Koito modules, or with the Mazda-Stanley Low beam-High beam ADB recently launched.

Japanese car makers take into account that a majority of their sales are in countries where the cost factor is extremely important, for instance in America where Japanese car makers are realising more than 38% of their sales, or in developing countries, and even in their native country where most driving is done in cities where headlamp performance isn't as crucial as in Europe and elsewhere. So for generalisation of LEDs, even if technically every car maker or set maker wants to do it, there is no current plan to end the use of halogen headlamps.

In this report, after an introduction to the automotive Japanese industry with its main figures and targets, the facts and figures of vehicle lighting companies are presented, and we describe in detail the leading car makers and their realisation and targets for lighting, and we do similarly for their main lighting suppliers. There's an interview with each of the big companies, featuring one or more of their leaders in research and development.

 
2017 Israel Start-up Ecosystem
Monday, 11 September 2017

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Mapping of Israeli Autonomous Vehicles Startups published by YL Ventures in VentureBeat

Innovation and knowledge production are rooted deep within the cultural DNA of Israel. Establishing a state in a land that is over 50% desert, under constant threat, led to the development of a highly advanced technological industry.

In recent years, Israel has entered a new era in which over 1,500 new hi-tech companies are established annually and the development of countless new and breakthrough technologies creates a race between the largest multinational corporations' venture arms, global VCs and other investment entities all converging on Israel to invest in their growth and acquire their next best technologies. After IT and cyber-tech, the latest disruptive technological cluster is automotive.

In a first chapter this report presents the key factors to Israel's success incubating startups: a long history of entrepeneurship and knowledge production, world-renowned universities, targeted government incentives, a strong base of innovation and individual skills coming from the Defense Forces, the local presence of major corporate drivers such as Google, Intel, Apple, IBM, Cisco, Facebook, and Microsoft; attractive venture capital investors, and a mature support structure for innovation. In the latter part of the chapter we present the Israeli automotive industry with the three major clusters: electric mobility, ADAS and autonomous driving, and smart mobility; and the automakers and suppliers present in Israel.

In chapter 2, a selection of 37 Israeli startups are presented whose activities could be of interest for DVN members. They cover four different fields: ADAS, visibility, materials, and electronics. For each company, you can find details about their activity and productss, their team with their experts and general information. All these startup companies are eager to engage with DVN members to explore collaborative opportunities.

In building this report, we've come to conclude that a meeting amongst worldwide lighting and ADAS experts and the 37 Israeli startups should be useful for all our community. More than 30 Israeli startups involved in lighting and/or ADAS should attend such an event, to take place the end of this coming November in Tel Aviv.

 
Interior lighting report
Tuesday, 18 July 2017

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Growing interest and demand for innovative interior lighting is driven perhaps mostly by European carmakers, but also by American and Asian car manufacturers as fast followers. Meanwhile, all carmakers have detected the great potential of interior lighting to improve psychological and physiological comfort, safety, orientation, information, and communication—and for setting brand identifiers and amplifying style highlights in the car interior. The control of the interior lighting is increasingly made intelligent by connecting the lighting functions with the vehicle's cameras, sensors, and electronics.

Autonomous Driving is a turbo for the development of interior lighting; it allows completely new activities inside the car, which in turn call for enhanced interior lighting. Passengers will enjoy new opportunities and freedoms as the car becomes a rolling smartphone, office, and living room all in one. This accelerates the demand for more luxury in an intelligent, pleasant, and functional ambient lighting environment.

In around 9,000 words and 200 pictures, this report presents today's interior lighting and likely trends for the future. The big trend in interior lighting, as seen at the latest auto shows, is for a growing number of lighting applications inside vehicles: contour and indirect lighting, decoration trims; stylish light patterns in headliners, seats and illuminated panoramic roofs, ambient lighting, light animation for welcome and goodbye modes, interior lighting features as brand identifiers, "smart" trim parts with integrated cognitive and connected lighting and electronics, and predefined or user-selectable light colours by dint of RGB LED arrays.

The trend to more interior lighting applications runs parallel to the trend to a higher number of electronic systems for cognitive and connected interior and exterior lighting products: larger displays and touchscreens in instrument panels and centre consoles, proximity sensors instead of traditional switches for lamp activation, gestural and voice control instead of switches, and intelligent light control for electric cars (e.g., connected with the power supply detection).

 
Lighting and Thermal Simulation Tools
Tuesday, 25 April 2017

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This report presents an update on the evolution of lighting simulation tools and techniques developed by tier-1 and -2 automotive lighting companies (and by one automaker).

The proliferation of complex, intricate vehicle lighting systems (AFS, ADB, matrix and pixel beam, etc) necessitates system simulation and the ability to virtually drive a wide variety of beam patterns without having to run multiple expensive and time-consuming night drives in the real world. This ability to simulate is becoming ever more important as the newest lighting technologies continue to grow in complexity—µAFS, DMD, LCD, and MEMS scanning, for example.

Likewise, the market penetration of LEDs calls ever more urgently for virtual development tools—notably for thermal simulations and accounting for worst-case scenarios in term of tolerances with the extreme precision required for LED optics. Sophisticated visualisation tools and immersive system like CAVE give a good representation in virtual reality of the performance and appearance of the final product. These tools also deliver a high-fidelity representation of the final product in the virtual environment for evaluation and development of night and day design and style.

In the first part of this report an automaker's work in this field is described. Most carmakers have decided that simulators are very powerful tools to facilitate communication and collaboration between engineers and designers from the beginning of a project, even before suppliers are selected.

In the second part of the report, simulation approaches developed by tier-1 suppliers are presented. Simulation tools are key levers for companies in this field, and most details are closely-guarded secrets. Nevertheless, we've been authorised to present interesting information about the way lighting tier-1 suppliers simulate new products in development.

The third part of this report focuses on tier-2 suppliers. Since our last report, Synopsys acquired Brandenburg and now distribute a broad range of optical software adapted to every application. Optis' Speos product's impressive renderings are becoming de rigueur with the major importance given to style, and Oktal's SCANeR driving simulator has gained much traction, especially in the French market. The main features of their simulation tools are presented, together with their achievements.

The last part of the report describes thermal simulation, which has steadily increased in importance and is now quite essential given the prevalence of electronics and thermally-sensitive LEDs.

Lighting simulation teams are usually rather small units in a company. For these experts, it is especially important to exchange with experts from other companies. Nevertheless, there are not many conferences offered about this topic. This report provides in 30 pages comprehensive coverage of simulation tools for lighting and thermals.

 
Adaptive Driving Beam
Tuesday, 13 September 2016

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In front lighting, the last ten years have brought numerous innovations in light sources with the introduction of LEDs in 2007, laser in 2014, and the arrival of cameras used in lighting.
But the crown jewel innovation in automotive lighting is ADB (Adaptive Driving Beam, also called Glare-Free High Beam). It reached the road in production on the VW Touareg and Phaeton in 2010, and after a few more years LED matrix ADB systems came along and this year LED pixel light in the Mercedes E-Class.
While the systems all do the same thing in theory—give the driver nearly full high-beam seeing and exposing other drivers only to low-beam glare—the state of the art is advancing rapidly and the methods of achieving the goal are proliferating.

This 60 pages report on ADB explains the technology, the science and research on its efficacy, the four technical solutions, in production, development and research phase.
Example systems described and assessed in the report include that of the Audi A5, A7, A8, TT, Opel Astra and Mercedes CLS, E-Class launched recently.
Worldwide set makers' production or readiness status is elucidated with regard to ADB/Matrix/Pixel and a state-of-the-regulations section cover ECE and US.
A special part is dedicated to the future technologies as Digital Light Processing, Scanner system from MEMs, and Liquid Crystal Display which are still in research phase.

One of the most interesting point of the report is the recent interviews of the main players of automotive lighting concerning ADB and their vision about this technology and lighting in general:
- OEMs Wolfgang Huhn, Uwe Kostanzer, Christian Amann, Jean-Philippe Benoist, Ingolf Schneider, and Thorsten Warwel.
- Set makers Gerd Bahnmüller, Kamislav Fadel, Yuji Yokoya, Laurent Evrard, Rainer Neumann, and Jürgen Antonitsch .
It's a timely, informative, engaging report of value especially for those in our lighting community who aren't involved on a day-to-day basis with the rapid development of this ADB technology that stands to resolve the longstanding conflict between seeing and glare in traffic at night.

 
Vehicle Lights regulations
Tuesday, 26 July 2016

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Around the world, there are two major systems for regulating vehicle lights and lightlike devices (such as retro-reflectors). The UN (formerly "ECE" or "European") Regulations are recognised as mandatory or acceptable throughout most of the vehicle-driving world, but the US and Canada are a regulatory island of their own, with significantly different technical and legal requirements and without recognition of the UN regs. But the regulatory topography is quite a bit more complex than that. Some markets recognise only old versions of the UN Regulations. Some markets allow both UN and US lighting equipment. Some markets follow the technical requirements but not the legal structures of the UN system. Until recently, Japan was its own regulatory island, too. China and India are thinking about signing onto the UN system, but haven't made a decision yet. Various ASEAN countries do things how they like.

Differences in the various systems are not limited to only the raw technical rules of how much and what colour of light must be distributed in what kind of pattern from a given kind of device, along with various requirements for durability, environmental sealing, adjustability, and so on. There are also compliance mechanisms to consider; the US and Australia are among countries that use a self-certification system, while the UN system is predicated on reciprocally-recognised type approvals.

Although the regulatory-island effect can be leveraged to allow automakers to control what vehicles do and don't enter a market, and at what price, the automakers at least nominally strive to minimise the proliferation of different parts which drive up design, engineering, tooling, build, and parts-management costs. This is where harmonisation comes in, the effort to create and describe overlapping windows among the world's different regulations so one device can meet multiple requirements simultaneously. Past efforts toward official harmonisation have failed to gain traction, but recently-published technical documents with that goal in mind are a positive sign of movement in that direction.

The effects and implications of these technical and legal factors are crucial up and down the line, from how devices are designed and manufactured to how the regulations are updated and revised to how those involved with vehicle lighting talk about it and strive to improve it. Over time, for example, the UN Regulations have grown burdensome in their number and amendment frequency. A monumental shift in how the UN lighting regulations are structured and maintained has just got under way with a recent GRE decision to start forward on a two-stage simplification of the UN lighting and signalling regulations. Duplicative content is to be consolidated, and eventually the regulations are to be recast in performance-based terms aimed at minimising regulatory barriers to technical and technological innovation—and reducing the need for constant amendments in response to the increasingly fast-paced advance of technology.

 
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