May 21, 2024

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The US will finally allow adaptive headlights on new cars

The US will finally allow adaptive headlights on new cars

Zoom / A prototype of the Audi e-tron on the motorway in Europe lights its way forward with adaptive headlights.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is finally preparing to legalize adaptive beam headlights in the United States. On Tuesday, the NHTSA announced that I have released a final rule This will update the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which currently only allow “dumb” high and low beam lights.

Use of adaptive beam lights Matrix of projectors, some can be turned off to form the beam so that the lights illuminate the road but not shine on the oncoming driver. (This is an advance over the automatic high beam technology you may have installed in your current vehicle.) The technology has been around for nearly two decades in Europe and Japan.

Automakers have been asking NHTSA to update headlight bases for some time now. In 2013 Toyota petitioned the agency for the first time to allow adaptive beam lights, and the NHTSA agreed to start arduous and long Procedures for making federal government rules.

In 2016, Volkswagen applied for an exemption from existing headlight rules to import some vehicles equipped with adaptive headlights, and in 2017 BMW did the same. (NHTSA did not make a decision on any of these petitions until the publication of this final rule, which simultaneously rejects requests from both VW Group and BMW, as the exemption is no longer required because the technology is now legal.)

Light at the end of the tunnel

Finally, the NHTSA published its proposed rule-making notice in 2018 after the National Transportation Safety Board conducted an investigation that concluded that the government should not actively restrict headlight systems that have been shown to have safety advantages. Now, finally, that process is finished.

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NHTSA could simply have adopted Europe Standards, enacted in 2006, for these adaptive beam lights. But new cars in Europe as well approved type, unlike the United States, where OEMs certify that their new products meet required regulations. NHTSA says the road test portion of the Europe type approval process for adaptive beam headlights is too subjective for the self-certification system.

Instead, the NHTSA used SAE International’s recommended practices, published in 2016, as the basis for the new regulations. There are some differences in track test scenarios – for example, to ensure that drivers on curved roads do not experience glare.

“NHTSA prioritizes the safety of everyone on our nation’s roads, whether they’re in the car or out of the car. New technologies can help advance this mission,” said Dr. Stephen Cliff, NHTSA Deputy Director. “NHTSA is issuing this final rule to help improve safety and protect vulnerable road users.”