When we think of a car safety evaluation, we usually think of a crash test; a car with a test dummy collides with a structure such as a wall or a column. However, with the era of autonomous driving ahead, organizations in charge of safety evaluation are continuously opening new evaluation items to prevent accidents in various situations in advance and strengthen the protection performance of occupants in the event of a collision. For example, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), renowned for its rigorous evaluation criteria, has designated some ADAS functions as evaluation items for collision avoidance and accident damage mitigation, inducing installment of the basic advanced safety equipment.
IIHS these days is paying attention to the headlamps. In 2017, IIHS newly added the ‘headlamp’ to its evaluation criteria after figuring out that high-performance headlamps enhance the safety of night driving. One year before its introduction (2016), IIHS conducted a headlamp performance test on 21 small SUVs worldwide. The fact that 17 cars received ‘Marginal’ or lower boosted its introduction.
Against this background, IIHS is evaluating the headlamps through actual driving tests. The test environment is largely divided into a straight road with a distance of 250 m and a curved road with a distance of 120 m. The test has been conducted three times for each scenario, and it is based on driving at a constant speed with an error within 3 km/h of the driving speed for each evaluation.
IIHS determines the evaluation grade by synthesizing the scores calculated by measuring the oncoming vehicle driver’s glare level and the low-beam and high-beam front road lighting performance. A device called a photometer is used for measurement. Evaluate by placing the measuring device on the outside of the driving road (Infographic ①) and on the centerline (②), on the outside of the other side of the road (③), and at the expected position of the other driver (④). At this time, the error due to the vehicle pitch (height) caused by the movement of the suspension is adjusted separately.
After introducing the headlamp evaluation for the first time, IIHS has raised the conditions for obtaining the highest safety ratings, TSP (Top Safety Pick) and TSP+ (Top Safety Pick Plus), in 2020. The headlamp must achieve ‘good’ or higher to reach the highest safety level. If it is an option, it acquires TSP, and TSP+ if it is basic. This means that IIHS is actively encouraging the basic installation of high-performance headlamps.
In this year’s safety evaluation, Hyundai Motor Group, which had the most vehicle models that obtained TSP or higher, recorded excellent results in the headlamp section of the IIHS vehicle safety evaluation. While all Genesis models met the highest grade requirements, 16 Hyundai Motor and Kia models also achieved Good or Excellent - its highest level - in the headlamp category.
Hyundai Motor Group is one of the most progressive automobile manufacturers in the field of headlamps. With the development of lighting technology, headlamps are positioned as the core of the front design of automobiles. Hyundai Motor Group began to realize the design of headlamps that existed only in the imagination through its own technology - such as the hidden lighting technology that Hyundai’s Tucson and Grandeur have.
Hyundai’s hidden lighting, which started to be used with the tail lamps of the Palisade, was completed with fine laser cutting. Since then, it has been used in the daytime running lights of the Sonata and the turn signals of the Grandeur. With this technology, the visibility - the primary role of the lamp - was improved at the same time without harming the current design. Tucson’s Parametric Jewel Hidden Lamp uses a new nickel-chromium semi-deposition method (a method of coating the inner surface of the lens thin enough to allow light to pass through), so it can be utilized in areas with a wide luminous range.
In addition, Hyundai Motor Group is improving all areas, from design to production, with the determination to manufacture the best headlamps. For example, detailed LED specifications are selected in the design stage, or the reflective surface is optimally designed to secure brightness performance. In the subsequent production stage, dispersion (a numerical value indicating the degree of spread) is minimized through error tolerance analysis. In addition, the position and phase difference of the cut-off (headlamp irradiation area) between the optical headlamp modules, which are essential items of headlamp performance, are managed. In addition, the dispersion of headlamp performance is reduced after precisely measuring the dimensions of critical components related to light distribution performance.
In addition, in order to improve the light distribution performance of the headlamps, the use of LED projection lamps with excellent long-distance visibility has been increased, so that the overall vehicle lineup can exhibit excellent headlamp performance. At the same time, the optical module, which is a key component for improving the performance of headlamps, has been standardized and used in car models under development. Through this, it reflected the design identity of the Hyundai Motor Group, which has various new technologies, and at the same time secured stable light distribution performance.
The glare of the other driver, one of the evaluation items of IIHS, can be improved through aiming (adjusting horizontal and vertical irradiation angles) according to process standards. Sophisticated headlamp aiming is an essential task to ensure driver safety. Hyundai Motor Group starts aiming based on this data, after measuring the ground clearance of at least 20 headlamps by specifications such as suspension, engine, and tire.
In addition, the automaker conducts intensive verification through actual driving, so that headlamp aiming problems do not occur due to chassis structures, such as front-end modules or suspension and tires. In the beginning, it goes through rough roads for over 500 km, and the durability is verified after driving more than 30,000 km. Then, the lamp irradiation area is set using an optical camera, and the irradiation angle is precisely adjusted with the portable aimer.
A portable aimer is developed to improve the convenience and accuracy of aiming. Unlike the old times when judging the inspection area depended on human eyes, the aiming accuracy was overwhelmingly improved since utilizing an optical camera. In addition, the number of people required for the work was reduced to one, and the detachable laser equipment was used in the process of aligning the vehicle to increase convenience.
As such, Hyundai Motor Group is conducting a regular-quality aiming inspection for mass-produced headlamp quality management, and also, the automaker is strengthening communication and collaboration between related departments on headlamp aiming at the research center. This thorough improvement work process was possible because Hyundai Motor Group models were able to receive good evaluations in IIHS’s strict headlamp evaluation standards.
In addition, in the headlamp evaluation, it is necessary to secure a certain level of illumination because it is advantageous to secure night vision when the projection distance is long in a straight-line or turning situation. At the same time, it could be a difficult condition because it must not obstruct the view of the oncoming driver. Therefore, the installation of High Beam Assist (HBA), which controls the operation of the high beam depending on the situation, is effective in securing visibility and preventing glare. In fact, IIHS also indicates whether or not the HBA is installed when describing the result of the headlamp evaluation.
The Intelligent Front Light System (IFS), which is being applied mainly to the Genesis brand, is the latest evolution of this HBA. One of Genesis’s design identities, the 32 matrix LEDs inside the QUAD lamp, provide excellent night vision with high brightness. At the same time, multiple LEDs can be individually controlled, making it possible to partially turn off the lights depending on the situation.
IFS uses this characteristic to determine the position and angle of the other vehicle through the front camera and then turns off only the LED that irradiates the area to prevent glare from the other side. Since the high beam is not completely released in the function control situation during high beam operation like the HBA, it is possible to prevent the deterioration of the visibility performance when the low beam is switched to high beam, or vice versa.
Hyundai Motor Group recently upgraded the performance of headlamps by using MLA (Micro Lens Array) technology. Although the headlamps of the 4th generation G90 to which this technology is applied are designed to be the slimmest among mass-produced cars, they attract worldwide attention as they have the highest level of visibility. In particular, the corresponding headlamp can more delicately control the IFS area where partial lights can be turned off, effectively preventing the other driver’s glare. The MLA technology first applied to the 4th generation G90 plans to steadily increase the scope of application, starting with the Genesis brand.
This preemptive use of new technologies and quality improvement was possible thanks to the Hyundai Motor Group’s philosophy of providing safe cars to customers. The reason for Hyundai Motor Group to have the most vehicle models that obtained TSP or higher from IIHS and became ‘the Safest Automobile Manufacturer’ is based on this safety philosophy. Hyundai Motor Group will continue to provide customers with the best technological experience through continuous improvement of headlamp performance and structure.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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