Lighting remains a significant component in vehicles. Apart from adding aesthetic looks to interior and exterior parts of a vehicle, lighting plays an important role in vehicle safety. Today, increasing concerns about road safety and government regulations for lighting are the major growth drivers for lighting equipment.

According to Allied Market Research, the global automotive lighting market, valued at $18 billion in 2018, is expected to reach $28.77 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 6.7 per cent from 2019 to 2026.“The rear lighting segment was the highest contributor to the market, with $5.61 billion in 2018, and is estimated to reach $8.87 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 6.5 per cent during the forecast period,” Allied Market Research report adds. Another report published by Mordor Intelligence estimates that the global automotive lighting market will register a CAGR of about 7.46 per cent, during 2019 – 2024.

Here, we discuss on some of the advanced technologies in automobile lighting components that are transforming the automotive segment.

Light is the new chrome for cars
Headlights are a major factor in providing a safe environment for night driving. However, of late, technological progress in car lighting has led to light becoming an essential design element in modern cars. The lighting manufacturer developed new ultra-slim LED Oslon Boost HM for headlights that delivers outstanding brightness values with compact dimensions.

In addition to numerous features such as adaptive front lighting, often called bend lighting or matrix lighting, the miniaturisation of this component plays a particularly important role. “With the Oslon Boost HM, Osram developers have succeeded in achieving an outstanding brightness of 415 lm at 1.5 A with a very small chip area of just 0.5 sq mm,” Osram claims.

The package of the LED is also particularly compact at 1.9 mm x 1.5 mm x 0.73 mm, providing a finger-width front headlamp solution, without compromising light output. The luminance of 255 cd/sq. mm. at 1.5 A is an absolute best-inclass performance value for this type of LED.

Osram Oslon Boost HM

Digitalisation of LED headlamps
In order to ensure the specified light distribution on the road surface, different optical systems are developed and manufactured for vehicle headlamps depending on the area they are used. Taking into account right-hand and left-hand traffic, up to 12 technically different types of headlamps may therefore be required for a global vehicle model.

With the new world headlamp that HELLA is launching on the market in summer 2020 for a premium manufacturer, this variety of variants is expected to become ‘superfluous’. The light in this headlamp is adjusted via an identical SSL 100 light module just by controlling it via software. The digital control can activate each pixel individually and display the entire light distribution according to the respective regional regulations. For example, the identical headlamp provides ideal illumination of a roundabout in right-hand or left-hand traffic and prevents oncoming traffic from being dazzled.

HELLA SSL100

HELLA is working on the digitalisation of light and will in future digitally cover the entire range of LED headlamps from 100 light pixels to high-resolution SSL HD technologies with tens of thousands of light pixels. “With our innovative headlamp modules, we have a technical basis for implementing all lighting functions by using software and flexibly adapting them to regional requirements. This also includes additional functions such as glare-free high beam or projected orientation lines on the road,” says Dr. Michael Kleinkes, responsible for lighting technology development at HELLA.

Mockup which is adopted LG Innotek’s Nexlide-HD

Light enables car ‘talks’ to driver
In October last year, the German automaker Volkswagen highlighted a new feature for its new flagship electric car, the VW ID.3. It is equipped with a lighting system that can ‘talk’ to the driver.

Volkswagen describes the system: “Not only does this car’s voice control obey your every word, the ID.3 also communicates visually with its occupants – thanks to the completely new intelligent ID. Light concept. A LED strip that runs across the cockpit assists the driver by changing colour according to the current function.”

Volkswagen’s new electric car VW ID.3 is equipped with a lighting system that can ‘talk’ to the driver

Once they are settled into the driver seat, ID. Light signals to the driver that the vehicle’s drive system is active and that the car has been unlocked or locked. It accentuates information issued by the driver assist and navigation systems and signals braking prompts and incoming phone calls. In conjunction with the navigation system, ID. Light reduces the stress of driving in traffic.

DRLs and tail lights
Daytime running lights or DRLs are a relatively new feature on ost cars and are designed to increase visibility of a vehicle during daylight hours. DRLs are fitted on the front of a vehicle that remain on whenever the engine is running. Though countries like Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Canada were among the first to adopt DRLs on all vehicles, the technology is not so popular in rest of the world. As various research studies have shown that DRLs can play a major role in reducing road accidents, the technology is fast catching up.

LG Innotek has recently developed Nexlide-HD (High Definition), a flexible three-dimensional lighting for cars that emits bright and uniform light from five directions for the first time in the industry.

It is an automotive lighting module made by attaching a number of LED packages to a thin substrate. It is a hexahedron that gently curves like a rubber and mounted on the exterior lamps, such as DRLs and tail lights.

Nexlide-HD emits uniform light from five directions except the substrate contact surface, the manufacturer claims. The company applied the LED packages, which spreads light around 180 degrees, and a proprietary optical design technology to the product.

Nexlide-HD enables the creation of unique lightings with various designs such as straight lines, curved lines, waves, and three-dimensional figures. The module can also be cut into thin pieces and combined into blocks to create floral patterns and more. The flexibility of the module is doubled so that one can form it into different shapes by using silicon.

This product can be used to the tail lights as well as DRL on the front of the vehicle. DRL require brightness of 400 candela (unit of light source brightness) above so that they can be recognised even in the daytime. LG Innotek has raised the module’s brightness by applying a 5-sided stereoscopic lighting technology.

In addition, according to LG Innotek, Nexlide-HD can be used to produce slim lighting and reduce the thickness of automobile lamps by up to 70 per cent. This is possible because the module is no need for extra components such as an inner lens to make the light uniform.

LiDAR in autonomous driving
Though still in its infancy, autonomous driving is all set to transform our transportation system. Accordingly, car manufacturers and mobility service providers are working on their visions for driverless vehicles.

The need for autonomous vehicles to more comprehensively and reliably detect their surroundings makes the number and arrangement of sensors, such as LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), more critical. With SPL DP90-3, Osram Opto Semiconductors added a 65-Watt laser to its LiDAR photonics portfolio and brings autonomous driving one step closer.

With short-range LiDAR applications, the immediate vehicle environment can be scanned reliably. Picture: Osram
With short-range LiDAR applications, the immediate vehicle environment can be scanned reliably. Picture: Osram

There is now a broad consensus that only a sensor fusion of LiDAR, radar and camera systems can provide the necessary security for fully autonomous driving. Each of these technologies has advantages and disadvantages depending on the respective scenario, but overall, the better they are coordinated – the safer the vehicle moves through traffic. For example, LiDAR systems are strong in generating highresolution 3D information in real time. Long-range LiDAR is used to detect objects up to approximately 250 meters away. The immediate surroundings of the car must also be reliably captured by short- or mid-range LiDAR, which covers a distance up to approximately 90 meters from the vehicle. Short- or mid-range LiDAR covers classic traffic situations such as passing cars on highways or driving in urban traffic.

With SPL DP90-3, Osram presents a new single-channel pulsed laser that features improved beam quality and particularly compact dimensions. Its space-saving footprint of just 0.3 mm x 0.6 mm, will enable system manufacturers to create extremely compact designs.