on Feb 8th, 2012Design improvements to car and bike headlights
There are many unlit roads and curbs in Bangalore and other places. I have had lots of near-miss accidents while turning into a dark curb or alley. The reason for this is that the headlights on a car and bike don’t light the way in the direction of your turn. Let me explain with a diagram.
Given above is a diagram of traditional car headlights. The red cone represents my field of vision when I am about to turn and the green cone represents what I should be seeing. When I am turning right, I need to see what’s on my right, along with what is in front.
Given that we use a steering wheel in a car and handle bars on a bike, both motion based electromechanical systems which control indicators and speed, why not make that work for lights as well?
Well it turns out, only BMW comes with an optional feature for this, called adaptive headlights. I don’t know if it is patents that is holding back other companies from doing this, but like seatbelts, this needs to become essential for all vehicles on the road. Here are some thoughts around this:
1. It is important for a car/bike to let the person coming in front know that he/she is about to turn. We have indicators but when people drive on Dip lights, it’s hard to spot certain sleek looking indicators. One design improvment can be to automatically switch lights to the dim mode while turning or after switching on indicators. Serves two purposes: firstly, the person on the oppposite side can see the indicators, secondly, because of the DIM mode, drivers will natually slow down while taking sharp turns.
2. Another possible implication of having lights that spread to the side of turn is that you might blind the person coming on that road. The automatic dimming of the lights should stop that as well.
If any of this doesn’t make sense or if I have missed out on something, please let me know. Here is a video of the BMW adaptive lights in action. Isn’t this something that should be available by default?