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Ford trials new headlight tech that projects signs onto the road

Ford is working on new headlight technology in Europe that projects symbols onto the road to help keep a driver focused on what’s ahead.

Referred to as ‘high-resolution headlights‘, the new technology being trialled by the Blue Oval allows the LED headlights to potentially project directions, speed limits or weather information on the road, acting almost as an extension of a head-up display.

Ford showed off a number of the proposed functions in a short video uploaded to YouTube.

One function includes the headlights projecting a snowflake symbol on the road to alert the driver of an icy road ahead.

The high-resolution headlights could also project the width of the car to help a driver gauge whether their car will fit through a gap or into a parking space.

Ford also notes this headlight technology could provide benefits for other road users as well. For example, it could project a pedestrian crossing onto the road in situations where the existing road markings are faded or unclear.

Another possibility includes showing a path for the driver to ensure cyclists are passed at a safe distance.

“What started as playing around with a projector light and a blank wall could take lighting technologies to a whole new level,” said Lars Junker, an advanced driver assistance systems engineer for Ford of Europe.

“There’s the potential now to do so much more than simply illuminate the road ahead, to help reduce the stress involved in driving at night.”

“The driver could get essential information without ever needing to take their eyes off the road.”

Although this type of headlight technology may seem revolutionary, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this from an automaker.

Mercedes-Benz first showcased its similar Dight Light headlight technology in 2016 with the ability to project marking and warning symbols onto the road.

A production version of this Mercedes-Benz system is already available on the S-Class in Australia, as well as the C-Class as an $2300 optional extra.

Unlike the Ford high-resolution headlights, the Mercedes-Benz Digital Light headlight system doesn’t project specific road signs but does project warning symbols – for example, if you’re about to enter a one-way road from the wrong direction.

The Mercedes-Benz system can also use symbols to alert drivers of upcoming roadworks, and to indicate safe lane changes.

If Ford’s high-resolution headlights do come to fruition in a production vehicle, it’s unlikely to be available in every market because different markets have different regulations in regard to projecting images onto roads.

Ford has said the technology is still in the development stage and is being tested in controlled environments.

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