Mercedes-Benz has unveiled an auxiliary spotlight feature for its so-called Active Night View Assist headlamps to provide what it describes as “an enhanced level of pedestrian safety”.
Up until now Active Night View Assist has used an infra-red camera to record ghostly video of pedestrians within a pre-determined field ahead of the car and subsequently play it in real time on a monitor within instrument binnacle - thus alerting the driver to a potential safety hazard at night or in low light conditions.
The new feature, which is designed to work at speeds above 28mph, sets out to provide not only the driver but also pedestrians with an enhanced warning by employing a spotlight to illuminate the area where the camera detects their presence.
The spotlight feature relies on the existing infra-red camera mounted within the headlamp assembly to detect pedestrians at distances of up to 262 feet (80 metres) and uses the main beam function of the headlamps to light up the immediate area where they are detected. Depending on the existing speed, pedestrians can be illuminated up to four times before the car arrives.
A second camera mounted within the windscreen, where it also assists the functions for Mercedes’ Speed Limit Assist and Lane Keeping Assist, records the position of other cars and determines whether it is safe to illuminate the area where pedestrians are detected. If the headlamps are set to dipped beam, the pedestrian is illuminated with the spotlight function beyond the field of the dipped beam.
According to accident research carried out by the German Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), five times as many pedestrians are killed on country roads at night as during the day. BASt statistics also show that just 20 per cent of all car journeys take place at night, but this is the time when some 40 per cent of fatal accidents occur.