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Have you ever been blinded by someone’s headlights? Can’t see the lane marking in the rain? Well, do we have a treat for you.

Imagine car headlights made up of many small cones of light instead of one broad fixed beam. Now, imagine these cones as movable so you can direct them away from oncoming traffic at night or project around angles when your car is turning. But why stop there, let’s make these lights capable of projecting arrows or lane markers onto the road too.


Welcome to the world of programmable headlights. A team of engineers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has developed a prototype of a programmable headlight that performs just those functions listed above. The secret is not new; it is a version of the Digital Mirror Device (DMD) chip that Texas Instruments has been making for video display devices for years. In older rear screen projection televisions, DMD chips are mated with spinning color wheels to make bright video images. In the Carnegie Mellon application, only a DMD-like chip and a light source are needed to light up the road ahead.


As you could imagine, driving with the DMD chip in a programmable headlight device would require some sophisticated electronics and sensors. One amazing feature still under development is the ability to make snow “disappear” when you drive. To make snowflakes disappear, the system tracks the falling flakes, predicts where they are going, and then turns off the beams that would otherwise reflect light off the flakes. This occurs so rapidly that to the driver it appears that the snowflakes aren’t there. The driver effectively sees “between the flakes”.


For more information, Google “programmable headlight” and you will find a sizable number of articles and technical papers.


Thanks to Urse Dodge Chrysler Ram

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