The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Ford Motor Co. Displays Headlamp Technology of the Future

January 29, 2002

Ford Motor Co. is shining the spotlight on new headlamp technology, displaying illumination on three concept vehicles at the 2002 Los Angeles and North American International auto shows. This headlight enlightenment is featured on the Lincoln Continental concept, Ford Mighty F-350 Tonka pickup concept and Ford GT40 concept. While designed to further enhance the unique appearance of these vehicles, the lighting systems are more than flashy jewelry and could one day replace the halogen lamps used on many of today's cars and light trucks. Future illumination technology also could one day include "smart" headlamps -- lights that automatically adjust to road and vehicle conditions. "We are working on ways to put more favorable light - more customer-pleasing light -- on the road in the field of view of the driver where it belongs," says Mahendra Dassanayake, Ford senior technical specialist in optical electronics. "This new lighting has the potential to provide superior light control and color, consume less power and allow greater styling flexibility." HID Fiber Optic Headlamps: The Lincoln Continental and Ford GT40 concepts mark the debut of Ford Motor Co.'s fiber optic HID headlamp system, showcasing that lighting technologies can deliver both brand differentiation and functionality. The company's fiber optic HID headlamps allow the light source to be spectrally tuned, essentially allowing engineers to illuminate the road with the proper color balance of light most comfortable to the human eye and best enhances nighttime visibility. Using HID light through fiber optics allows for the precise redistribution of light down the road. Fiber optic HIDs deliver a smoother pattern of light, improve safety through enhanced illumination, are environmentally friendly and require less power, which poten-tially can translate to improved fuel economy. In addition, fiber optic headlamps reduce package volume by 40 percent versus current head-lamps because the actual HID light source and drive electronics are remotely located. This means the only item upfront in the headlamp is a plastic optic that distributes light,providing designers greater flexibility and consumers lower repair costs in the event a headlamp is damaged in a collision. In the future, fiber optics could allow Ford Motor Co. to deliver "smart" lighting -- headlamps that automatically adjust to road, weather and vehicle conditions. LED Headlamps: Meanwhile, Ford's Mighty F-350 Tonka concept marks the debut of high intensity LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights in a headlamp application. LEDs better distribute illumination on the road than conventional halo-gen lights, as well as a means to reduce electrical power and emissions. These high intensity LED lights are featured prominently throughout the vehicle's interior and exterior. They include the low beam and fog lamps, all of the signal lights, rear combination lamps, the center high-mounted stop light, front turn signals and marker lights. While halogen bulbs take a fraction of a second to respond to an electrical input, LEDs respond instantly, giving valuable extra warning time for other drivers. LEDs also are very efficient - using up to 50 percent less electricity than halogen lights.
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