02 November 2018
See and be seen – that’s the golden rule when driving in the dark. As the clocks go back and the long nights draw in, a reduced field of vision can be hazardous to drivers with 40 per cent of car collisions occurring during the hours of darkness*. Always at the cutting edge of safety and design, ŠKODA’s night-time driving simulation lab is used to develop and test its headlights.
ŠKODA’s virtual night-time drive technology utilises both virtual reality and physical models to develop the latest headlight designs for its vehicles. Using sketches and 3D data provided by designers, the developers use the technology to design and adapt the lights to suit each new ŠKODA model.
The light beams are tested during static and dynamic night-time driving simulations while the evaluation specialists sit in a vehicle interior to mirror real-life experiences. To create an authentic virtual image, the simulator uses three single-chip DLP projectors with optical masks fitted in front of the lenses to perfect the black-colour configurations in night-time driving scenarios.
Mathematical models allow monitoring of various functions, including MATRIX high-beam masking where individual LED beams are momentarily switched off and light beam intensity manipulated to guard against dazzling other users while maintaining high-beam illumination. The simulator can also be used to assess how much drivers will be dazzled by their own headlamps, when the light is reflected off traffic signs and road markings.
“This is the only laboratory of its kind anywhere in the Volkswagen Group,” says Petr Kristl, Head of Lighting Development at ŠKODA. “It gives our employees a unique opportunity to test lights designed for new models before the prototype testing stage. The virtual night-time driving tool enables us to monitor and evaluate the quality of the light path and optimise the lighting functions.”
LED technology is already used for daytime running lights in all ŠKODA models. Full-LED headlamps, i.e. LEDs in low beams, high beams and direction indicators, are available in the Octavia, Karoq and Kodiaq. The newly facelifted FABIA features standard-fit LED headlamps and LED rear light clusters.
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