Volkswagen says that future lighting systems will project 3D holograms containing information onto the road and help to boost safety.
At the same time, lighting innovations will also allow increasingly personalised vehicle design.
Development work at VW's 'in-house centre of lighting excellence' at the Wolfsburg plant has culminated in the LED headlights in the new Touareg, for example, which improve comfort and safety when driving at night.
However, lighting designers and engineers have an eye on the future, too. The assisted driving cars of tomorrow will confront road users with new everyday situations – such as a lack of eye contact with drivers.
This, VW says, is where new, interactive lighting functions come into play. The new lighting systems will include micro-pixel HD headlights with up to 30,000 light points and high-performance LED headlights as a low-cost alternative to cost-intensive laser light. For the first time, these micro-pixel HD headlights will project information directly onto the road, further improving safety.
This technology also enables new assist systems such as "Optical Lane Assist" to be brought to life. In this system, the headlights project lanes in front of the Touareg, giving the driver precise information about the width of the SUV (including trailer) and the distance to the road lane markings, for example at road works. The lanes also follow the radii of curves. Such useful and safety-enhancing lighting functions are being tested with the HD-LCD headlights.
Interactive tail light clusters for added safety
New systems such as the matrix tail light cluster will also revolutionise tail lights, it is claimed. Matrix tail light clusters will allow warnings to be incorporated into the tail lights, for example, enabling dangerous situations, like the area at the end of a traffic jam, to be defused using car-to-car communication.
New assist functions, such as the micro-lens-based "Optical Park Assist" system, will improve safety while manoeuvring. This system will be able to project the vehicle's path onto the road to alert passers-by to the parking process.
In-house Volkswagen light tunnel reduces development times
To make sure it is suitably prepared for the challenges of the future, Volkswagen says it has opened its own 'centre of lighting excellence' at the Wolfsburg plant. A 100 metre long, 15 metre wide and 5 metre high light tunnel has been in operation there in its Research & Development division. In this tunnel, Volkswagen is using road simulations to test its lighting systems for today, tomorrow and beyond using road simulations. The tests can be reproduced and repeated. As a result, systems can be compared and evaluated in a light tunnel better than ever before. The centre of lighting excellence is also an ideal place to investigate how drivers and pedestrians perceive light. The light tunnel has also reduced the development time for new headlight, tail light and interior lighting systems, as the number of time- consuming night drives can now be reduced. Progress in light development can thus be implemented even more quickly into series production technology – increasing safety for the benefit of all road users.