The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced the finalization of rules that enable automakers to equip new vehicles with Adaptive Beam Headlights.
The new rule satisfies a requirement put in place with the recent infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden last year. The change is over a year and half ahead of schedule.
Adaptive Beam Headlights are designed to enhance on-road safety by illuminating potential hazards without blinding other motorists. The technology leverages visual cameras, radar, or a combination thereof to automatically adjust the direction of the headlight beams, thus directing light away from oncoming traffic while also illuminating pedestrians, animals, or objects on the side of the road that may otherwise not be seen.
Adaptive Headlight Beams differ from adaptive headlamps, the latter of which feature a lighting element mounted on a mechanical swivel, thus enabling the lights to move with the contour of the road and provide greater lighting coverage. By contrast, adaptive headlamps don’t change the way in which low beams and high beams function, and thus the tech is already permitted under the current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
At present, General Motors already offers Adaptive Beam Headlights technology on range-topping trims of the Cadillac XT6 luxury crossover. However, the full adaptive beam function is currently deactivated for units sold in North America, per previous rules that stipulate a headlight system must feature separate high-beam and low-beam settings.
Now, however, the new NHTSA rule amends Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, “Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment.”
“NHTSA prioritizes the safety of everyone on our nation’s roads, whether they are inside or outside a vehicle. New technologies can help advance that mission,” said the NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator Dr. Steven Cliff.
With the announcement of the rule change, it’s possible that we may see Adaptive Beam Headlights technology on new vehicles sold in the U.S. very soon.