Opel was the first automaker to introduce the dynamic curve light and 90-degree cornering light with the innovative Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL) to the mid-size class in 2003. In 2004, the dynamic curve light was presented in the compact class for the first time with the Opel Astra. Opel democratized this safety technology even further in 2006 when it offered the Meriva and Corsa with bi-halogen-based curve and cornering light for the first time in the compact vehicle segment. Opel has been a pioneer in automotive lighting technology for years, and now presents its next, even more intelligent AFL generation.
The new generation AFL automatically adjusts headlamp beam distribution to the prevailing road profile and visibility conditions. The system features nine lighting functions and debuts in the Opel Insignia. The new mid-size Opel, which makes its world premiere in July 2008 at the London Motor Show, boasts LED daytime running lamps that require less electricity (and therefore fuel) than using main low beam headlamps during the day. The new lighting graphics make the Insignia unmistakable by night or day for all road users.
The maxim of Opel lighting technology specialists has always been to provide the best-possible visibility for drivers in all conditions, while preventing the risk of blinding approaching traffic.
The importance of good visibility in road traffic is confirmed in accident statistics: although there is around 33 percent less traffic on the roads at night, the risk of fatal accidents in twilight or darkness is twice as high as during the day.
As well as additional safety, AFL also offers more driving fun: thanks to better visibility of the road ahead, the driver can make more informed decisions about his driving style and speed through curves. An important argument in favor of state-of-the-art xenon lighting technology is also the lower fuel consumption of cars fitted with these headlamps. As the ignited gas in the headlamps requires a considerably lower power output (35 instead of 60 watts per headlamp), the car’s alternator is not put under as much load.
New generation AFL: Wide range of functions for most diverse conditions
The new generation AFL, jointly developed with Hella, is based on powerful bi-xenon headlamps. In conventional gas-discharge headlamps, the low beam light/dark boundary is formed with the help of a bulb shield. New sophisticated AFL technology features a free-form cylinder instead, which has several exactly calculated contours on its surface for various light beam patterns.
Numerous vehicle sensors measuring speed, yaw rate, steering angle and rain – plus the high beam assistant’s camera – collect information on road profile and visibility conditions and feed it to the control electronics. The system’s software then decides which lighting function is appropriate for the prevailing driving situation. The software sends a corresponding command to a control motor, which rotates the headlamp cylinder to the requested contour in a split second.
The cylinder rotation alters the course of the light rays, changing the headlamp beam. The module is on a pivot for the curve light. In Opel cars, curve and cornering lights are especially effective as the car’s body does not obstruct the cornering light beam thanks to the headlamps’ three-dimensional design.
Overview of nine lighting functions on left-hand drive vehicles:
At speeds under 50 km/h, the Town Light provides a wider, beam with reduced range. This helps the driver see pedestrians at the edge of the road better.
The Pedestrian Area Light is for zones where the driver must exercise extreme caution. It is activated at speeds between five and 30 km/h, and adjusts the cone of light for both headlamps by eight degrees toward each roadside. This function helps the driver see children playing next to the road earlier.
The Country Road Light provides a brighter and more wide-ranging beam to the sides of the road than a conventional low beam. It is activated between 50 and 100 km/h.
The Highway Light creates a cone of light that illuminates the road ahead and the left-hand roadside better. An increase in electrical output from 35 to 38 watts also provides a noticeable improvement in visibility. The Highway Light activates automatically above 100 km/h, but only when the steering angle sensor indicates that the road’s curve radii do not match that of a country road.
The Adverse Weather Light is activated during rain or snow when the rain sensor recognizes rain or the windshield wipers are switched on. This light function varies both the headlamp beams’ distribution pattern and its various outputs. The headlamp beam distribution is directed more toward the roadsides (slightly less to the left) to make the guiding lines easier to see. As the left headlamp beam output is reduced from 35 to 32 watts, the risk of blinding oncoming traffic is also minimized. Conventional headlamp beams are often irritating to oncoming traffic in such weather conditions, as the beams reflect off the wet road surface. The right headlamp beam output is increased from 35 to 38 watts to further improve the driver’s visibility.
The Static Cornering Light (already included in the current AFL generation) illuminates an area to the right or left of the vehicle up to an angle of 90 degrees, making maneuvering easier in poorly illuminated areas, such as on dark access roads. It is activated at speeds below 40 km/h either by a large steering angle or by the turn indicators.
The Dynamic Curve Light (already included in the current AFL generation) ensures improved illumination in curves. Curve Light’s bi-xenon headlamps shine at up to 15° right and left of the vehicle into the oncoming curve. The Curve Light angle is determined by the car’s speed and steering angle.
The High Beam Light (already included in the current AFL generation) provides maximum headlamp beam output and range. Rather than beam asymmetrically, the High Beam Light optimally illuminates the full width of the road. The headlamps’ output also increases from 35 to 38 watts.
The ninth function is the High Beam Light Assistant, which is both an innovation in this segment and offers a considerable safety advantage when driving in darkness. The Assistant automatically activates the High Beam Light for better road illumination and therefore improved visibility. The system’s camera recognizes the headlamps or tail lights of other vehicles and automatically switches the headlamps to low beam when required to prevent blinding other road users.
Almost Every Second Signum driver opts for AFL
The great market potential for high-tech headlamps is clear from the number of orders for the current AFL generation. In 2007, around 45 percent of Signum and 33 percent of Vectra buyers in Germany opted for the “intelligent” headlamp system. Opel expects a considerable increase in the number of Zafira, Astra and Corsa models with AFL during its technology initiative, starting in 2008. Also part of the initiative is the Meriva, which became the first vehicle in its class to be available with bi-halogen curve and cornering light in model year 2006. The special edition “Innovation” models come with AFL as standard, as well as other attractive innovations.