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What Are Adaptive Headlights? How Do They Work?

Adaptive headlights do seem to be something straight out of a sci-fi flick when you hear about them.

But with the cars these days boasting a list of amazing features, an adaptive headlight just seems like an addition to the list. So much so, that adaptive headlamps may even become standard in the coming days.

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So, imagine this situation. You are driving down a stretch of unlit road, cruising at say 50 kmph. You approach the next curve assuming the speed is slow enough to make a turn. But is it? You never know what’s waiting at the other end of the turn. Sounds dangerous?

Now, let’s not take you to the dystopian course of explaining adaptive headlamps.

But what are they? Do they adapt according to the environment? Is it just a new fad to add on to the features list of a new car? Or is it an innovation that might turn out to be imperative down the road (literally and metaphorically)?

Let’s answer all your queries and doubts about adaptive headlights. From how they work to is it actually necessary to go for these, everything.

Also Read: 8 Modern Car Safety Features That Should Come To India

What Are Adaptive Headlights?

As the word ‘adaptive’ suggests, adaptive headlights tend to adapt to different driving conditions that you are driving in.

Adaptive headlights work in tandem with your car’s steering wheel. So, as explained in the situation above, when you are driving down a dark bend, it tends to go with the flow.

The standard headlamps, which will focus on the other side of the road when you are making a turn, leaving you rather in the dark for a few moments in front of your vehicle.

On the contrary, adaptive headlamps turn in synchronisation with your steering wheel, hence shedding some light where it actually matters.


How Do They Work?

How do adaptive headlights work?
How do adaptive headlights work?

Adaptive headlamps are connected with the electronic sensors in the car. The car’s sensors monitor the speed of the vehicle, the direction of the steering wheel as well as the side to side motion of the car.

With all of these systems in place, the car tends to angle the lights in the direction it should suppose to be in.

These sensors are then further connected to an electric motor inside both the headlight casings. A typical set of adaptive headlamps can turn 15 degrees from the centre, giving them a 30 degree set of motion.

The sensors in the adaptive headlamps prevent the lamps from turning when they are not supposed to. If the car is moving in reverse or moving very slowly, the adaptive headlamps won’t turn accordingly.

The adaptive headlamps technology includes wheel speed sensing sensors that detect how fast the wheels are rotating at a particular speed. The sensors send over the data to an electronic control unit when then determines the angle of your adaptive headlamps.

Advantages of Adaptive Headlights

Adaptive headlamps
Adaptive headlamps

As mentioned in the situations above, the adaptive headlights don’t leave you alone, for good. If you are travelling on a steep road, then for a long long time, your car’s standard headlights will be pointing towards the sky rather than on the road ahead.

Adaptive headlights point in the correct direction, adapting to your driving situation. Taking all the factors in consideration, adaptive headlights point in the direction your lights should actually point in.

Moreover, it isn’t just safe for you, but for the other motorists as well. Adaptive headlights are intuitive. In case, there’s a driver coming from the other end on a blind curve from the other end, a pair of standard headlights might even blind them for a few seconds.

Whereas, due to the versatile nature of the adaptive headlights, your car will point right in front of the vehicle.

Limitations of Adaptive Headlights

Limitations of adaptive headlights
Limitations of adaptive headlights

Like every piece of car tech, adaptive headlights tend to have their own set of limitations.

While the technology in the arena is still evolving, the current set of adaptive headlamps tend to turn just a mere 15 degrees. This might not turn out to be enough on a few roads.

Moreover, as of now, the technology seems to be a luxury rather than a standard safety feature. With most of the expensive cars sporting adaptive headlamps, the benefits do come at a cost.

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Are They Worth It?

Are adaptive headlights worth it?
Are adaptive headlights worth it?

Most of the car manufacturers don’t consider adaptive headlamps a safety feature. While the DRLs (Daytime Running Lights) coming as a standard for many vehicles these days, we do hope that adaptive headlamps follow the same road.

As of now, the cars that sport this technology tend to be on the higher end of the spectrum. Should it be mandatory? Well, yes.

Will it be mandatory? Keeping in mind the road safety concerns in the country, we certainly hope so.

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Martand Mishra
Martand Mishra
Content Aficionado (basically loves everything content) | The original Top Gear cannot be replaced | Avid reader


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