Porsche - Lighting the Way

Lighting the Way

Better visibility and less glare: Matrix LED headlights use 218 spotlights to better illuminate even more of the road.

It’s not just a matter of bringing light to darkness. Porsche has developed an innovative lighting concept that provides an extremely high degree of illumination without blinding oncoming drivers—and this is but one major feature of the new class of automotive headlights.

At the heart of each headlight is a block of 84 light-emitting diodes, arranged in a grid structure with mathematical precision and known to engineers as a matrix. This constellation is surrounded by Porsche’s typical quartet of daytime running lights, which dim in bright conditions and shine at full capacity in the dark. Then there are a few more modules for the auxiliary high beams and the static component of the curve lights—all with LED technology. All of that adds up to 109 light-emitting diodes in each of the two housings on a Panamera—a total of 218 tiny headlights that shine brightly, yet do not dazzle.

What might sound like a contradiction is made possible by an intelligent control system whose core component is the matrix consisting of 84 LEDs. The 30 diodes in the lowest of the matrix’s three rows form the basis for the low beam. The middle row of 28 forms the synthetic curve light. This special Porsche feature, which always adapts to the radius of the curve, shines dynamically to the right or left by switching through the row, so it doesn’t need to use a servomotor or settle for a rigid cone of light. The 28 diodes of the middle row join with the 26 of the upper row to form the new high beam. The brightness of each individual diode is electronically controlled. If the camera on the rearview mirror detects an oncoming car or one up ahead, the control unit switches off the LED units that could blind those drivers.

The control unit for the matrix LED headlights always takes into account the human factor, explains Dr. Sebastian Söhner, who is in charge of automatic headlight settings. “Drivers’ eyes are drawn to the brightest point in their field of vision, which is generally the headlights of an oncoming car. That can prevent them from seeing what is happening in places like the edges of their own lane. So matrix LED headlights not only suppress their glare for other drivers but also increase the intensity of light to the sides—for example toward the lane divider—in order to provide visual support for remaining on course.” The boost in power for the LEDs directed at the edges of the lane comes from the diodes that have been switched off. An adaptive thermal management system prevents overheating and extends the service life of the lights.

The new generation of headlights retains Porsche’s characteristic four-point daytime running lights. Since 2014, Porsche has been extending this hallmark of the brand car by car, from the Macan to the 911.

By Hendrik Dieckmann
Illustration Rocket & Wink