• Mercedes Previews Its New LED Headlights

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class arrived in June 2014 packing a host of innovative features, none arguably more impressive than Mercedes’ new MULTIBEAM LED headlights. The highly advanced lighting technology is made up of 24 individual high-performance LEDs, each individually controlled to adapt to certain traffic conditions. The “gridded” light source creates a customized light distribution from both headlights and distributes it across the road to keep optimal lighting in any driving condition for both the driver and other drivers.

Such a technology can be filed under “revolutionary,” but Mercedes isn’t just stopping there. Soon enough, the German automaker plans to introduce MULTIBEAM LED headlights that will be made up of of 84 individual LEDs. This setup not only creates higher resolution of the light output, but it also improves illumination for the driver and provides increased safety for other drivers on the road, especially those in the oncoming lane who will be protected from getting blinded by the Merc’s high beams.

The company thinks highly enough of this new technology that it can actually picture a scenario where its Intelligent Light System can be controlled digitally without the aid of mechanical actuators doing the heavy lifting.

All this points to how far technological advancements in automotive lighting have come for Mercedes and by extension, its two German rivals. BMW, has its laser lights Audi has its Matrix LEDs and now, Mercedes has its MULTIBEAM LEDs. Let the headlight-technology race begin.

Click past the jump to read more about the new Mercedes LED Headlights.

Mercedes LED Headlights Explained

Mercedes Previews Its New LED Headlights
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Mercedes Previews Its New LED Headlights
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Mercedes Previews Its New LED Headlights
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The MULTIBEAM LED headlamps on the 2015 Mercedes CLS-Class have given birth to a host of incredible lighting innovations, including dazzle-free high-beam headlamps that can systematically illuminates or darkens any part of the road to avoid distracting any driver traveling ahead of it. As soon as there isn’t a car in front of the CLS, the LED lights automatically revert back to full high beam. The same system applies when an oncoming vehicle from the opposite lane approaches the car.

The Predictive Active Bending Light is another unique advancement of the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps. As its name suggests, the headlamps’ beam is capable of bending based on the direction of the road, even before the driver has turned the wheel. This dramatically improves driver safety when entering and exiting bends.

Then there’s the Roundabout light, which activates before entering a roundabout. Using the CLS-Class’ own navigation system, the light beam is widened on both headlamps, ensuring a bright and clear view of any roundabout and whether other cars might be using it at the same time.

Once the system recognizes that the car is driving on the highway, the Motorway high beam is activated, automatically dimming the the offside area of the light beam so as not to dazzle oncoming trucks in the opposite lane. The system does that while keeping the driver’s view fully illuminated.

Why it matters

Mercedes Previews Its New LED Headlights
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Ambitious as all of this may sound, Mercedes even sees a future where 1,024 pixels could be used on its MULTIBEAM LED headlamps, creating even more improvements in night-time visibility for its cars and other road users.

The company is currently developing said technology with partners Infineon, Osram, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft IZM, and Hella as part of the "µAFS" research project. The project, according to Mercedes, has already given birth to a new type of LED chip that allows selective control of “more than” 1,024 individually addressable pixels per LED chip.

The technology is admittedly flying over my head right now, but I do understand the whole purpose behind Mercedes’ pursuit for lighting innovation on its models.

Fortunately, we’ll get to see what Mercedes engineers have been working on soon enough; the new lighting technology is expected to be installed and tested on an experimental model sometime next year.


Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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Press Release

Light pioneer Mercedes-Benz offers a preview of what the future holds: instead of the 24 LEDs of the gridded high beam module in the CLS headlamp, 84 LEDs per headlamp will soon be providing for even better light quality and even greater safety at night. In the medium term, as many as 1024 pixels per LED will enable optimum illumination of the road at every speed and in all traffic conditions – and without dazzling other road users.

Mercedes Previews Its New LED Headlights
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These advances in light technology form part of a continuing tradition: around 500 LEDs attended to all the lighting functions on a car for the first time on the S-Class in 2013. In 2014 the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps on the new CLS-Class raised the benchmark once again with their precision LED light grid modules. The statistics show just how important such precision lights are: at night-time, the risk of accidents increases drastically. Five times as many pedestrians are killed on country roads as during the daytime. Although night-time driving on country roads accounts for only 20 percent of total mileage, 40 percent of all fatal accidents occur here during the night (source: BASt, German Federal Office for Roads and Traffic). Over 120 years of headlamp technology at Mercedes-Benz stand for ongoing progress in the interests of enhanced road safety and the introduction of innovations to benefit the company’s customers and other road users.

"Enabling ideal visibility in all driving situations without dazzling other road users has always been our credo in developing new light systems," observes Uwe Kostanzer, head of light systems development at Mercedes-Benz. "We are pursuing the further development of LED technology to this end."

The added safety provided by the MULTIBEAM LED technology becomes apparent above all in real traffic situations: in contrast to static high beam systems, some of which have long ranges, MULTIBEAM LED also supports the driver when there are other vehicles in the field illuminated by the headlamps. By means of totally independent control of the individual LEDs of the gridded light source, the MULTIBEAM LED headlamp is able to mask other road users out of its light distribution in a fraction of a second, thereby enabling high beam to remain on. This assures the driver of the best possible light performance at all times, without dazzling other road users.

Mercedes Previews Its New LED Headlights
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In the near future, Mercedes-Benz will be incorporating an additional HIGH RANGE LED high beam into its LED headlamps. This additional high beam employs state-of-the-art high-performance LEDs to provide high beam ranges of over 600 m in driving situations without any oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead. In contrast to the current "laser headlamps", LED technology achieves this performance at markedly lower costs and with a manageable degree of complexity. At the same time, it also enables Mercedes-Benz to exploit the legally permissible level of illumination in Europe virtually to the full. This applies irrespective of the light source employed in the headlamp for all manufacturers.

LED technology today, tomorrow and in the more distant future
When it comes to the number of pixels, the same is true of LED headlamps as of a digital camera: the more the better. The higher the number of individually controllable pixels, the more finely the light can be controlled and adapted to different conditions. A high resolution enables an increase in both precision and brilliance. Here is an overview of LED technology today, tomorrow and in the more distance future:
In 2014 Mercedes-Benz introduced the innovative MULTIBEAM LED headlamps in the CLS-Class . These are fitted with 24 individual high-performance LEDs. Each one of these LEDs can be individually electronically controlled. "Gridding" the light in this way allows the light distribution from the right and left headlamps to be controlled entirely separately and adapted to the traffic conditions with a high level of dynamism. This enables the individual areas of the road surface to be illuminated in a very specific manner. The headlamp control technology combines the gridded light source with the proven mechanical technology of the LED Intelligent Light System, and the high-performance LEDs provide for a range of 485 m.

Mercedes Previews Its New LED Headlights
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Mercedes-Benz will soon be presenting MULTIBEAM LED headlamps with a gridded light source containing 84 LEDs, enabling even higher resolution of the light output. This will afford other road users even better protection from dazzling, while improving illumination of the road ahead for the driver. As a result of the absolutely freely configurable light distribution, it is possible for the first time to implement all high- and low-beam functions of the Intelligent Light System in entirely digital mode and without any mechanical actuators. This will make a wealth of new, adaptive light functions possible which will render night-time driving yet safer for both the driver and other road users.

This technology is set to advance at a rapid pace: In the medium term 1024 individually controllable pixels per LED chip will enable a further improvement in night-time visibility, resulting in further enhanced safety.

Mercedes Previews Its New LED Headlights
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The partners Infineon, Osram, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft IZM, Hella and Daimler have just achieved a breakthrough in the "µAFS" research project in the form of a new type of LED chip with an extremely fine structure. Monolithically structured pixel LED semiconductor layers are built up on a silicon substrate which, via the integration of circuit parts, allows the selective control of more than 1024 individually addressable pixels per LED chip. This LED technology developed in the project sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) is to be installed and tested in a Mercedes-Benz experimental vehicle in 2015.

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