Integrating night vision systems into passenger vehicles isn't exactly a new feat, but some automakers are looking at ways to improve upon the current state of the art. Mercedes-Benz, for instance, has developed a system that not only detects pedestrians but shine an extra beam of light upon them.
The new spotlight function is based on the same infrared technology used in Benz's existing Night View Assist system, although it is tied to a second multi-purpose camera, which is typically used for detecting speed limit signs and lane markings. Information from the two cameras is fed to an on-board computer, which calculates if an object ahead of the car is, in fact, human.
If that verdict comes back in the positive, the computer then works to illuminate the pedestrian with the car's headlamps. A pair of spotlights, located within the headlamp assemblies inboard of the low beam projectors, are able to swivel and cast light on specific targets. Mercedes-Benz also designed the system to flash these lights up to four times, informing both the driver and pedestrian of each other's presence.
Sounds neat, but there are a few catches. To avoid distracting other drivers, Mercedes-Benz says the system will only function when there isn't any oncoming traffic. Further, it'll only work to illuminate pedestrians if the car itself is cruising at speeds above 28 mph, helping prevent repetitive flashes in crowded, low-speed urban situations.
Although some of Mercedes-Benz's recent technologies have been relegated to European-market vehicles, we're told this advanced system will be implemented in select North American models. Look for the pedestrian illumination feature to be incorporated into the E-, S-, *** and CLS-Class ranges by next summer.