Ford develops headlights that can pick out pedestrians and identify junctions

Ford is currently testing a new headlight system that uses infra-red cameras to identify pedestrians on the side of the road and shine a spot-light on them.

Car-maker Ford is developing new headlights that will be able to identify pedestrians walking along the side of the road and read road-signs.

Ford is currently testing its Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting system, which can help headlights “read” the road ahead and identify junctions and roundabouts.

The headlight system uses heat-sensors to identify people or animals walking along the side of the road or crossing it. The system then shines a spotlight on the person or animal and they are also identified in the in-car display.

LED lights can pick out pedestrians

An infra-red camera on the car’s grille is used to simultaneously locate and track up to eight people and bigger animals, including larger dogs, at a range of up to 120m.

Two special LED lights, mounted next to the car’s fog lights, can spotlight up to two objects at a time and can project a spot or a stripe on the road surface. On the in-car display, the object can be marked in yellow or red, according to the proximity and the level of danger.

The new system builds on Ford’s existing Traffic Sign Recognition technology, which can “read” road-signs and identify upcoming roundabouts and junctions.

Lights widen at junctions and direct drivers around roundabouts

The headlights widen at junctions and move at roundabouts to show the driver which way to turn.

The system also uses GPS information to better illuminate bends and dips on the road. The camera also stores road information so that when the driver uses the same road again, the headlights automatically adapt to the course of the road.

The Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting System is being developed at Ford’s European Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany, and Ford says it expects the technology to be available for customers “in the near term”.

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