The future of light – Mercedes-Benz CLS
MULTIBEAM LED headlamps: The future of light
In the next-generation CLS-Class Mercedes-Benz takes the lighting system into a new dimension. The unique, new MULTIBEAM LED headlamps combine the best lighting technologies. They are exceptionally bright and automatically illuminate the road surface with a previously unsurpassed, precision-controlled distribution of light – without dazzling others. Also unique are the anticipatory, camera-based active light function and the cornering light function with added, navigation-assisted functionality for roundabouts.
The CLS was the first road car in the world with dynamic LED High Performance headlamps including all the functionality of the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Light System – initially as an optional extra. In future the CLS Coupé and CLS Shooting Brake will be equipped with advanced LED High Performance light systems as standard.
As a new item of optional equipment, MULTIBEAM LED headlamps are available with the Intelligent Light System. On the next generation of the two iconic designs this sees Mercedes-Benz starting a new chapter in lighting design. New MULTIBEAM LED headlamps come with a number of outstanding, innovative lighting features to extend the Intelligent Light System's previous functionality (adaptive Highbeam Assist, country mode, motorway mode, fog lamps, active light function, LED daytime running lamps):
- Anti-dazzle, high-performance main beams, which react faster and more precisely
- Anticipatory, camera-based active light function
- Navigation-assisted light function for roundabouts
MULTIBEAM LED headlamps are all-LED and combine the merits of advanced lighting technologies to form uncompromising MULTIBEAM LED technology. They are able to adjust the light distribution more precisely and faster than ever before to virtually any road or traffic situation, ensuring broad and bright illumination of the road surface and edge of the carriageway without dazzling other car drivers. They therefore offer a new level of safety which benefits other road users too.
See far, never dazzle
The crucial element is the new anti-dazzle main beam. The purposefully further advanced camera-based Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus system from the S-, E- and C-Class creates the necessary prerequisites. Using the camera positioned behind the front windscreen it detects oncoming traffic or vehicles in front, and mechanically masks them out in the light cone of the main beam so that the drivers are not dazzled. Consequently, the main-beam headlamps can be left on at all times, to use their full range without irritating or even endangering other road users.
The new MULTIBEAM LED headlamps also offer this partial main-beam control to illuminate the road surface according to the situation, but go further in an important step. They use a very fast responding and high performing precision LED module as a matrix light source, which features 24 individual, high-performance LED chips. Each of these LED chips can be actuated electronically and independently of the others. "Gridding" the light in this way allows the light distribution from the right and left headlamps to be controlled entirely separately and adapted to the traffic conditions with a high level of dynamism. This enables the individual areas of the road surface to be illuminated in a very specific manner. Combining the matrix light source with proven mechanical LED Intelligent Light System technology means the headlamp control technology not only improves on the precision of today's light sources and sets a gap with a minimal width for the main beam, but it also generates a new dimension in light output in partial high-beam operation. Compared with the systems on the market today, the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps have up to 2.5 times the partial high-beam light output. This increase is made possible by the sophisticated control electronics in conjunction with the new matrix light source of the precision LED module.
Because the precision module in the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps adjusts the light distribution extremely quickly to the situation in a very accurate way, other vehicles are reliably masked out of the light cone – even truck drivers positioned high above the road – whilst the driver of the CLS Coupé or CLS Shooting Brake continues to benefit from the best possible, i.e. brightest, illumination of the road and carriageway edges.
A camera on the windscreen supplies the system with the information it needs about the constantly changing traffic situation and is also used by other assistance functions. Four control units per vehicle calculate the ideal light pattern 100 times per second and activate all 24 high-performance LEDs in each precision LED module individually. Each LED is dimmable in 255 stages.
The additional light output of the technology in the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps is not only used to increase the performance in partial high-beam operation, but also for main-beam operation. Even though the latter is activated significantly less due to traffic density, the range of the main beams was increased by about 20% to about 485 m.
Despite tremendous capacity, the precision main-beam module here just about fits into the palm of your hand. Each of the 24 high-performance LED chips is no bigger than the cross-section of a grain of rice. These 24 high-performance LEDs perform all the functions of the main beam, Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus and preventative motorway mode, which even minimises glare for oncoming trucks thanks to the optimised light pattern.
Active light function illuminates bends early on
In addition to the high-performance, precision LED module, each MULTIBEAM LED headlamp houses another module for the low-beam headlamp. This has four LEDs and three low-beam reflectors with a total of eight LEDs to create a nice carpet of light in front of the car. The low-beam module also acts as a bright, long-range light in motorway mode and as an enhanced fog light with optimised light distribution. It can even be adjusted for countries with left and right hand traffic (tourist mode).
This low-beam lamp module can be swivelled up to 12 degrees to the outside. It therefore also serves as an active light function. For example, a camera-based, anticipatory function means that the active light function starts to swivel before the driver has even turned. The bend is therefore illuminated effectively as soon as possible. This active light function will also swivel back to the straight-on position before the corner ends, allowing the driver to identify dangers earlier when entering and exiting bends. To ascertain whether the vehicle is approaching a bend, this anticipatory active light function uses the same camera as Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus and other assistance systems. The anticipatory control allows an additional range of between 30 and 60 m, depending on the driving situation.
No dark zone on roundabouts
By contrast, the new and to date unique light function for roundabouts is navigation-based. It activates the cornering light function to the left and right before entering the roundabout to ensure maximum visibility at an early stage.
A friendly greeting: "welcome home" function
One other charming feature of the new MULTIBEAM LED headlamps is that, in addition to providing daytime running lamps, side lights and turn signal lamps via multifunctional fibre-optic cable (which like an eyebrow adds a flourish to the top of the headlamps in signature Mercedes style), they also have an exciting "welcome home" function. When unlocked the vehicle greets the driver by casting a pleasant blue light from this fibre-optic cable. This means one can see if a CLS Coupé or CLS Shooting Brake is equipped with this special lamp module even in the dark.
The LED technology used for MULTIBEAM LED as well as standard LED High Performance headlamps offers many advantages: the light from the bright LED headlamps is closer to daylight and therefore in line with normal human perception patterns. Studies have shown that the closer the colour of artificial light is to daylight, the less the strain on the eyes. With a colour temperature of 5500 kelvin, LED light is closer to daylight (6500 K) than xenon light (4200 K).
The powerful single-chip LED diodes of the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps and their high lumen/watt output also contribute to increased efficiency on the CLS Coupé and CLS Shooting Brake and, with an average useful life of about 10,000 hours, also last around five times longer than a xenon lamp.