system's finer points. "Unlike other manufacturers, we use not just steering wheel movements to control the swiveling reflectors. We also link these to data measuring the actual driving speed and yaw rate."
"Yaw rate" refers to the car's rotary movement about the vertical axis. It precisely describes the actual vehicle dynamics, making it possible to calculate, in advance, the radius of a curve for speeds over 18 mph. Steering angle, yaw rate and vehicle speed are transmitted by BMW's Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) systems to a specially developed control unit that operates the step motors in the headlights. With this, BMW has created even, reliable lighting that is also pleasing to the human eye.
Frank Bilz describes a couple of driving situations in which the BMW system is in a class of its own. "Our system is designed to recognize minor steering corrections when driving at highway speeds, so the headlights don't swivel from side to side unnecessarily. The same applies if the driver makes continuous minor adjustments to the steering angle when taking a curve. Occasionally, in more extreme driving situations, the actual position of the steering wheel does not indicate the desired direction of travel. But our high-quality data make it possible to avoid system malfunctions that would distract the driver." Thanks to the control unit, the software developed in-house, and the quality of processed data, BMW engineers have also been able to adjust the Adaptive Headlight system to suit individual vehicle models. After all, there's a significant difference in driving styles between a Z4 Roadster and a 7 Series Sedan.
In years to come, BMW engineers hope to create a system that not only recognizes the driving situation, but will also be able to look one or two curves ahead. This is an area of research in which Frank Bilz and his colleague, Johannes Aulbach, are already involved. "It should be possible to integrate data from the navigation system and image-processing camera sensors in order to develop the system even more," says Aulbach.
In any case, local information supplied by the Navigation system will soon support headlight control systems. Dynamic headlights ^ will then provide illumination on urban and country roads and „ highways. Depending on the traffic situation, the reach of the beams g would be wider and shorter in urban areas (like low beams on 5 the country roads), and on highways they would also illuminate the g neighboring lane. 3
But that's not all. BMW engineers and their development part- g ners have set their long-term sights even higher. With "pixel light," § they expect to be able to either illuminate - or eliminate - all indi- S vidual objects within range of the headlights. For example, using information from cameras and other data sources, the technology § will be able to cancel out light from oncoming traffic that comes ¡5 into a driver's line of vision, as well as cast a bright, focused beam on g the immediate surroundings, especially on pedestrians and I I ¡2 road signs. |_| £
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