Future is bright for adaptive driving beam headlight systems

LEDs have revolutionized automotive lighting, and there’s a new lighting technology on the horizon that is changing the performance of headlights as we know it: adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlight systems.

One form of ADB is “matrix” LED systems which feature a grid of individual LEDs that automatically adapt the headlamp’s high beam pattern based on the presence of opposing and preceding vehicles. The goal of the system is to improve long-range visibility for the driver without causing discomfort, distraction, or glare for others.

ADB technology is currently used in select vehicles in Europe and Japan, but has not been adopted in the United States due to regulations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which sets safety performance standards for motor vehicles in the U.S., published a report last year reviewing European ADB headlight systems in response to a Toyota petition asking that a NHTSA standard be modified to specifically allow ADB headlights. Multiple OEMs, including Toyota, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, have expressed interest in offering this technology on U.S. vehicles.

Currently, SAE International is creating a testing and performance standard, J3069 Adaptive Driving Beam System, based on the NHTSA report. It is anticipated that once this standard is complete, NHTSA will review and possibly adopt it as part of its guidelines for industry.

If you’re designing or manufacturing an ADB headlight system, Covestro has the material solutions you need. In our broad polycarbonate portfolio you’ll find a number of materials that are suitable for the automotive LED market:

  • Apec® high-heat polycarbonate for headlamp reflectors and bezels that require high brightness, design freedom and management of hot spots. Covestro has developed Apec® reflective white special grades that have high efficiency in reflecting visible light, increasing total reflection values up to 96 percent compared with standard white grades. For specular lighting, metallization of Apec® is also possible.
  • Makrolon® polycarbonate for heat sinks to optimize LED heat management. Covestro supplies a high-performance, thermally conductive Makrolon® polycarbonate that offers a high level of design freedom and cost-effective production.
  • Makrolon® polycarbonate sets the industry standard for automotive lenses, delivering lighter weight and lending itself to complex LED designs. Special grades of Makrolon® polycarbonate are used in a variety of LED light pipe and light blade applications for superior transmission (compared with standard polycarbonate).
  • Bayblend® polycarbonate+acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (PC+ABS) blends for LED housing. This material provides high mechanical strength, heat and flame resistance.

For more information, email plastics@covestro.com

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