Please wait a moment ...
Please wait a moment ...
Jun 21, 2013
Stuttgart. In 2010 the Mercedes-Benz CLS was the world's first series-production car to feature dynamic LED High Performance headlamps incorporating all the adaptive light functions of regular xenon systems. The new S-Class is the first series-production car ever to fully dispense with regular bulb sets and make use exclusively of energy-efficient LEDs. And the next step is now due to be made with Active Multibeam LED, which celebrates its premiere at Mercedes-Benz in the coming year.
Active Multibeam LED takes the situation-based control of the vehicle's headlamps into a new dimension. Previously, individual functions such as the active light function or anti-dazzle main beam have been controlled mechanically. Now, with the targeted control of numerous individual LEDs, the engineers at Mercedes-Benz are able to achieve new levels of variability when it comes to light distribution. Each LED can be switched on individually, therefore enabling precisely targeted areas to be illuminated. The various light functions are controlled independently of each other. This in turn makes it possible to adjust the headlamps even more precisely to suit the current road conditions. The headlamps are able to adjust their light pattern extremely quickly and unobtrusively – and this can even occur individually for the left and right headlamps respectively. Control units calculate the ideal light pattern 100 times per second. The system collects information via a camera.
"The first LED headlamps, with all the adaptive functions of the Intelligent Light System, have been available to our customers since 2010, in the CLS", according to Prof. Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Daimler Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Development at Mercedes-Benz Cars. "With Active Multibeam LED, the headlamps are able to react even more quickly and individually to changing traffic conditions. On top of this there are extended functions of which a driver will become directly aware, such as anticipatory cornering detection in the case of the active light function. With such features Mercedes-Benz is continuing to extend its pioneering role in the automotive lighting sector."
LEDs (light-emitting diodes) today represent the state of the art in vehicle headlamps. They offer three crucial advantages:
- The light from LED headlamps is closest to daylight. This means that LED light is in keeping with normal human perception patterns. Studies have shown that the closer the colour of artificial light comes to daylight, the less the strain on the eyes. With a colour temperature of 5500 kelvin, LED light is closer to daylight (6500 K) than xenon light (4200 K).
- LEDs are significantly more energy-efficient than regular bulb sets and, depending on the area of application, consume around 75 percent less power. With a higher light output than conventional illumination systems, an energy-saving LED low-beam headlamp, for example, consumes just 34 watts and is therefore much more efficient than a halogen (110 to 120 watts) or xenon light (80 to 84 watts; figures are per vehicle in each case). This means that it is possible to save up to 0.05 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, or 2.1 grams of CO2 per kilometre, compared with a vehicle with halogen low-beam headlamps.
- LEDs last considerably longer than regular bulb sets. At 10,000 hours, the average life of an LED is around five times longer than that of a xenon bulb.
2010 in the CLS: a breakthrough in LED technology
2010 saw a breakthrough in LED technology. With the launch of the CLS, Mercedes-Benz became the first automotive manufacturer to offer a series-production model featuring dynamic LED High Performance headlamps incorporating all the adaptive light functions of xenon systems. With no fewer than five light functions – country mode, motorway mode, enhanced fog light function, active light function and cornering light function – the Intelligent Light System is designed to cope with all typical driving or weather conditions. The lighting specialists at Mercedes-Benz have also for the first time been able to combine this LED technology with the already innovative Adaptive Highbeam Assist, which has resulted in a completely new level of safety at night.LED High Performance headlamps are also among the optional extras available for the new E-Class.
New E-Class: LED low-beam headlamps as standard
Since the spring of 2013, the new E-Class has been setting standards in terms of light features: as standard it boasts both low-beam headlamps and daytime running lamps which make use of LED technology. In the highly efficient low-beam mode, the two headlamps together have a total power consumption of just 34 watts. LED High Performance headlamps are available as an option for the first time in this class.
New S-Class: spelling the end for regular bulb sets
The next step is set to follow with the new S-Class. Mercedes-Benz is continuing to extend its pioneering role in the automotive lighting sector: for the first time the new S-Class is fitted exclusively with LED headlamps and no longer uses regular bulb sets - almost 500 LEDs are now responsible for illuminating the road, the vehicle, the interior and the luggage compartment. New, powerful single-chip LEDs and a newly developed projection module in the headlamp, where light rays are diverted, reflected and projected outwards, make a significant contribution to the increased efficiency.
New functions: more comfort, more safety, more courtesy
New functions are optionally available to extend the performance range of the LED headlamps in the S-Class.
For the first time, Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus in the S-Class allows the high-beam headlamps to be kept on permanently while driving, by masking out any other road users detected in the beams' cone of light. If the camera-based system registers either oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead, it will adapt the light distribution according to the traffic situation when the high beam is switched on. Consequently, the driver can leave the high-beam headlamps on at all times and use their full range without irritating or even endangering other road users. There is no need to switch them on and off manually, resulting in a significant increase in the overall driving time with high beam.
Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus likewise makes use of the new stereo camera also employed by other assistance systems. If its image recognition algorithm picks up a vehicle that is oncoming or driving ahead, it actuates a mechanism in the headlamp module. This then masks the portion of the LED headlamps' high-beam cone of light where there are other vehicles, to prevent their drivers being dazzled. If road users are detected outside the area that can be masked – for instance when cornering with multiple vehicles in the headlamps' beams – the system will switch to the familiar function of headlamp range control using the low-beam headlamps.
Possible backglare caused by increased use of the main beam and highly reflective signs at the side of the road is also detected and eliminated by dimming the headlamps accordingly.
Considerate to others: tail lights with automatic intensity control
The new S and E-Class are not only considerate to other road users by automatically masking out oncoming traffic from their headlamps' high-beam cone of light. When it comes to the tail lights of the S-Class too, Mercedes-Benz has achieved another world first with so-called multi-level functionality. With this, the brake lights and indicators are operated with varying light intensity, depending on the driving situation and ambient lighting (day/night).
If the Mercedes driver presses the brake pedal while stopped at traffic lights at night, for instance, the brightness of the brake lights will be automatically dimmed to avoid dazzling anyone behind. The light distribution is broadened to ensure the lights do not become too dim and that they continue to fulfil all legal requirements, of course.
Innovative: milestones in Mercedes-Benz lighting technology
As the world's oldest and best known automotive brand, Mercedes-Benz has always stood for innovations that are designed to benefit customers. Many innovations make their way into large-volume model series from research vehicles such as the ESF 2009 and also via such innovators as the CL and S-Class. Here is a brief chronology of the most important milestones in Mercedes-Benz lighting technology over the past 20 years:
1991: Premiere of xenon headlamps with gas discharge lamps in the Mercedes F 100 research vehicle
1995: Xenon headlamps with dynamic headlamp range control in the E-Class
1999: Premiere of bi-xenon technology in the CL-Class
2003: World premiere of the active light function in the E-Class
2004: World premiere of bi-xenon headlamps with active light function and cornering light function in the CLS-Class
2005: Premiere of Active Night View Assist in the S-Class
2006: World premiere of the Intelligent Light System in the E-Class
2009: World premiere of the Intelligent Light System with Adaptive Highbeam Assist in the E-Class
2009: Premiere of Active Night View Assist Plus in the S and E-Class
2010: World premiere of LED High Performance headlamps incorporating all the light functions of the Intelligent Light System in the CLS-Class
2010: New xenon burner with 20 percent higher colour temperature, and thus even closer to daylight, in the S and E-Class
2011: Start of series production of the spotlight function (world premiere)
2013: New E-Class fitted as standard with energy-efficient LED low-beam headlamps (34 watts/vehicle)
2013: New S-Class becomes first car to be fitted exclusively with LED headlamps as standard New light functions (optional extra): Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus, Night View Assist Plus Single light source on board: LED Multi-level functionality of tail lights in consideration of vehicles following behind
2014: World premiere of Active Multibeam LED