Adaptive Driving Beams: How Engineers Can Ensure Road Safety And Visibility 

Adaptive driving beams (ADBs) are key to preventing nighttime road crashes, yet the U.S. is “decades behind” when it comes to implementing this life-saving technology. ADBs were rolled-out across Europe in 2012, yet still aren’t commonplace in the U.S. Since designing and testing ADBs is a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process, physics-based simulations can instead help engineers ensure ADBs satisfy safety requirements in multiple real-world scenarios.  

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The U.S. “decades behind”

“The United States is decades behind the rest of the developed world with respect to updating standards to keep up with technologies, particularly in the headlight area,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations. “The standards have not been substantively updated since the ’70s. Meanwhile, technology has marched on.” In the U.S., headlights have also largely changed from warm halogen to cool LED, resulting in increased glare. Indeed, the fatality rate of nIghttime crashes is triple that of daytime collisions.

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Poor visibility can often result in T-bone accidents, in particular; in fact,  side-impact accidents account for roughly 23% of vehicle occupant road accident deaths. T-bone crashes are typically caused when one driver fails to yield to a second driver who has the right-of-way, therefore hitting the side of the vehicle, creating a T-shape. It’s important anyone involved in a T-bone road accident consults an experienced attorney to consider their legal options, Torgenson Law, Arizona T-bone Accident Lawyers explain.  

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Problematic testing requirements

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), its lighting standard “has long balanced the seeing needs of drivers while limiting glare to others.”

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However, as the U.S. has a different legal process to Europe for approving new technology, they’ve been unable to simply follow in their footsteps. “NHTSA carefully considered the existing [European] regulation during the rule-making process,” the agency said.

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“In areas where that regulation lacked objective and measurable performance criteria required for the self-certification system in the United States, the agency adopted performance requirements to ensure safety for all road users.” However, the complex and lengthy nature of these testing requirements mean carmakers are hesitant to start implementing ADBs.  

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Physics-based simulation solutions

ADBs must undergo a strict testing process to ensure they perform well in real-world situations. However, this is a virtually impossible task for engineers – they need to design multiple prototypes, and install and test them on numerous different vehicles, roads, and conditions.

Fortunately, physics-based simulations can help engineers avoid these challenges by accurately replicating the real world. In particular, simulation technology must be able to simulate the ADB lens design by taking the distance and height of oncoming vehicles into account, as well as road reflexivity and weather conditions.

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The simulation must therefore be capable of generating accurate 3D prototypes in real-time, modeling all factors including illumination and stray light analysis.

ADBs are key to prevent nighttime road accidents. By developing simulation technology, engineers can more easily ensure ADBs meet the safety requirements in multiple real-world scenarios. 

Saad Iqbal is a professional civil engineering and freelance write. He's passionate about structures, construction management, and home improvement topics. He's been working as a Senior Engineer in a consultant firm for over 8 years. Besides he loves writing informative and in-depth content focused on construction and home-related topics. You can catch him at his linkedin page or reach out via our contact us page.

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