Stuttgart - Just as we were getting accustomed to the ideas of powerful laser and shape-shifting LED headlights in modern cars, Mercedes-Benz comes along and introduces a new high-definition Digital Light technology that can actually project images onto the road.
The new Digital Light headlights, which will be launched in flagship Maybach sedans within the next few months, work similarly to Merc's own Multibeam LED lights but instead of 84 individual reflectors used to shape a beam around corners and oncoming traffic, each unit gets one million light pixels. The vehicle's on-board cameras and sensors detect the car's surroundings, and together with powerful computers and data from navigation maps, can make calculations in milliseconds and send commands to the lights for the best possible beam distribution.
But they don't stop at just shaping, "bending" and distributing a headlight beam. In certain situations the lights can project HD-quality images onto the road surface in view of the driver.
These images include guide lines, such as in a construction zone where painted markings have been removed, speed symbols, snowflakes to indicate possible slippery surfaces, arrows pointing toward pedestrians at the roadside, and lane keeping or blind spot monitor symbols when a driver is swaying dangerously out of a lane.
The Digital Lights are also compatible with Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control, and can project proximity distance markings onto the road between the front of the Maybach and the back of the car it's set to follow.
Mercedes is currently reviewing the legalities of releasing the new technology in specific market regions, and while South Africa currently does not hold restrictions on headlight beam types, the company cannot yet confirm if Digital Lights will be introduced locally.