Adaptive driving beams are finally going to be legal in the U.S.
Listen up America. Adaptive high beam is finally legal thanks to a regulation in the Infrastructure Act. This is great news for night driving safety - your author is particularly excited that this technology will finally be legal in cars sold in the US.
In case you need a refresher, the adaptive high beam is explained in detail in this story here. But in short, it's the trick headlights that we see in many European cars that can adjust their high beam lighting to suit the environment. The system uses cameras and sensors to detect other cars on the road and can track a perfectly darkened opening for the other cars, while emitting high beam-like light everywhere else. It will also dim the lighting of traffic signs as you approach them so as not to blind the driver with a bright reflection. There's potential for a lot more, too, as some manufacturers have developed headlights that project warning signs onto the sidewalk, swing up to highlight pedestrians entering the street, and more.
We missed something, but that's about to change.
How did this technology finally find its way to legality? It has been banned for years due to outdated regulations in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108. The exact language that manufacturers withheld specifically states that headlights must have dedicated low beam and dedicated high beam in order to be compliant and street legal. The new Infrastructure Act changes this by stipulating the following in a section on headlights: "to enable the use of adaptive high-beam headlight systems in vehicles".
This request comes in the form of an instruction to amend FMVSS No. 108 to include the provision of adaptive high beam, and the bill allows two years to do so. So yes, we could theoretically wait two more years, but no longer.
In addition to the legalization of the adaptive high beam, the Infrastructure Act also stipulates that a test of the headlight performance is now required. It doesn't go much further, but we suspect it will be similar to the headlight tests currently being conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
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