Adaptive Headlights That Dim Themselves Could Be Coming to U.S.

By Ryan Beene | October 15, 2018

U.S. auto safety regulators are moving to allow a new generation of brighter, self-dimming headlights that won’t blind other drivers on the road ahead.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing to permit so-called adaptive driving beam headlights on new cars, according to an agency notice made public Thursday. The advanced lights essentially operate as high-beam headlamps at all times while automatically dimming specific portions of the beam to cast less light on oncoming vehicles detected by sensors.

The technology “has the potential to reduce the risk of crashes by increasing visibility without increasing glare,” NHTSA said in a notice made public Thursday. The agency added that “it offers potentially significant safety benefits in avoiding collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, animals, and roadside objects.”

Automakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and Audi AG for years have urged NHTSA to update the headlight standard to accommodate the high-tech lights, saying they can improve safety by providing better illumination while avoiding glare for other drivers. The technology is available in other markets, including Europe, but carmakers have interpreted NHTSA’s longstanding headlight rule as prohibiting the technology.

The agency is seeking comments on the proposal, which would establish performance requirements for adaptive driving beams. Toyota petitioned the agency to amend its headlight rules in 2016.

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