Welcome to the future, folks.
The Biden administration successfully passed a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill that will have a massive impact on the automotive industry. As we work our way through the document, we find technological deadlines and changes to existing legislation. The most recent report concerned the Feds wanting automakers to eliminate drunk driving by designing new technology to detect it.
One piece of updated legislation we're happy about is the legal status of certain headlight technologies, which will now be allowed. More specifically, advanced adaptive headlights will be permitted once the bill becomes law.
As you might have noticed, LED headlights are essentially the new standard in the automotive industry. An LED provides a powerful beam of light which is excellent if you're the person in the car but not so great if you're the other person in the approaching vehicle.
That's where adaptive headlights come in. Think of it as a more advanced version of auto-dimming headlights.
LED headlights usually consist of several LED modules, which can all be operated individually. The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a prime example. Each headlight has 84 LED modules, and to date, you can only choose between dim and bright headlights. It's a pity because the car is capable of so much more.
We've experienced adaptive headlights in other countries, and they work exceptionally well. Because the light modules are operated individually, the headlights will move slightly upward when you approach a hill. The headlights work in combination with the GPS, so it knows what's coming next.
You can even keep the brights on without blinding a car coming from the front. Adaptive headlights will decrease the illumination as the vehicle moving from the opposite direction moves through the light cone.
It has many advantages, including making road signs more visible and illuminating pedestrians. We're not quite so sure about the last function, however. Pedestrian detection is usually part of any car's advanced driving assistance features these days. Adaptive lighting takes it a step further by identifying a pedestrian and then hitting them with a beam of light to make you aware of their presence. Great for you, but not so great for the poor person on the side of the road.
Once the bill becomes law, the transport secretary has two years to implement it, though we doubt it will take that long. The technology already exists, and specific high-end cars will require nothing more than a simple software upgrade.
In addition to the above, the bill is also expediting a few safety features the NHTSA has failed to implement over the last few years. The bill has also received criticism for pushing automakers to meet a 40% EV goal by 2030.