Osram, as part of a research alliance, has developed the basis for smart, high resolution LED headlights, which could improve adaptive forward lighting.
The light technology can be adapted to take account of every bend in the road so that there are no dark peripheral areas. In addition, with the aid of sensors in the vehicle, the surroundings can be analysed in order to illuminate oncoming traffic.
A demonstration model was developed by overall project manager Osram in collaboration with the project partners Daimler, Fraunhofer, Hella and Infineon. Both headlights o the vehicle contain three LED light sources, each with 1,024 individually controllable light points. This means that the headlight can be adapted very precisely to suit the respective traffic situation.
Osram’s chief technology officer Stefan Kampmann said: “We now want to develop this new type of high resolution LED light sources so that it’s ready for serial production and we see enormous potential for its use in headlights.”
The project, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), has now been successfully completed after three and a half years with the production and field test of headlight demonstrators.
For the innovative, high resolution, smart automotive lighting, in a second step, the Osram Specialty Lighting unit developed an LED module with an electrical and thermal interface that enables direct connection to the vehicle’s electronics.
Each partner in the group had a specific role. Infineon developed the smart driver circuit in the LED chip that allows each of the 1,024 light points to be controlled individually. HELLA specified the main technical requirements for the light source based on the functional requirements from Daimler. The lighting firm developed the entire optical system for the light modules and its cooling concept and developed the prototype headlights.
Daimler specified the functional requirements and the future vehicle properties for the complete headlight system. This was the basis for the components and module properties for the overall headlight system. A vehicle from Daimler with the smart LED headlights was used for the field trials under real traffic conditions.
To overcome challenges with a large chip containing 1,024 controllable pixels, the Fraunhofer Institute developed a new technology to repair defects. It is based on ultraviolet laser microprocessing and enables defects in LED chips to be repaired during the production process.
Microscopic defects are identified and removed with a UV laser through careful material removal or are electrically isolated without the laser causing new defects, what are known as leakage current paths. When they have been repaired, the pixels regain their full luminosity.