Adaptive headlight beams will be legal for use on public roadways in the United States in the near future thanks to a new amendment made to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
The amendment, which was included in the infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden earlier this month, will “allow for the use on vehicles of adaptive driving beam headlamp systems.” These systems are currently illegal in the U.S., as a headlight system has to feature separate, distinctly different high beam and low beam settings.
Adaptive headlight beams, for those who may be unaware, enable the beam produced by a vehicle’s headlights to be automatically adjusted based on the driving situation and road conditions. This technology typically uses a camera, radar sensor or a combination of both to self-adjust the headlight beam, directing it away from oncoming traffic to avoid blinding other road users. With this technology, the vehicle’s high beams can remain on almost permanently, with the dynamic beam cutting out a perfect sort of “hole” for oncoming traffic so the beam does affect other drivers’ vision.
Adaptive headlight beams are not to be confused with adaptive headlamps, which feature a regular halogen or LED light on a mechanical swivel, allowing them to move with the contour of the road and provide superior headlight coverage. This technology does not change the way the headlight performs with regard to a low/high beam and was thus already permitted under the existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
The infrastructure bill changes the wording of the relevant Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (section 108) to “allow for the use on vehicles of adaptive driving beam headlamp systems.” The bill allows two years for this change to be implemented, so it’s likely that we’ll see vehicles for sale in the U.S. with adaptive headlight beams before 2024.