New chip from Texas Instruments to make driving with high-beams on less rude

Enlarge / “New high-resolution DLP technology brings new capabilities to headlight systems,” Texas Instruments says. (credit: Texas Instruments)

Twice a year or so I drive from Denver to LA, and there's a stretch of highway in Utah that's pretty solitary at night. It's often outside of cell service, and barreling through the dark (no streetlights, of course) in a 2005 Toyota is tricky business. With my brights on, I've been able to see and slow down for elk grazing just 15 feet away from the highway. If one of them had decided to make a leap for the other side of the highway and I hadn't seen them beyond the curtain of darkness, both of us would have quickly been toast.

But that kind of driving requires a lot of vigilance, because you also don't want to blind oncoming truckers for equally serious safety reasons. So, if you do that stretch of highway at night, you end up spending 250 miles with a finger on the headlight post, keeping the brights on when you're alone, and turning them off when any headlights or taillights pop up on the horizon.

There are technological solutions for this problem (well, in new cars, maybe not in a 2005 hatchback). In Europe and Japan, adaptive driving beam (ADP) technology can throw light away from the field of view of oncoming traffic and reduce glare reflected off street signs.

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