Paris, France--Headlamps can introduce an important styling attribute to a vehicle. In addition, headlamp size and accessibility have taken on new meaning as automakers continuously look for ways to reduce the size of components. A new French headlamp concept addresses both of these concerns.
As part of the European Research Program (Eureka), Valeo Lighting Systems has developed a "breakthrough" headlamp design. Known as Baroptic(reg), the system provides flexibility in the front-end styling of vehicles for the year 2000 and beyond, while optimizing aerodynamics. It significantly reduces the lighting system's size, as compared with today's complex-shape technology, says Valeo's Alban L'Hermine. The reduced size also allows enhanced management of under-the-hood packaging.
Based on a new optical concept, the Baroptic system projects the luminous flux generated by a halogen or HID lamp into an optical guide with reflecting facets. The so-called light pipe (fiber-optic bundle) then projects the beam through lenses positioned along the pipe. These lenses, in combination with bulb shields, define the characteristics of the beam, including width, length, distribution, cut off, and homogeneity.
In contrast, conventional systems radiate the flux on the surface of the reflector (as with a complex shape or parabolic reflector) or directly on the road (such as with a sealed beam or elliptical projector).
The results achieved by the Valeo system, based on either a European or U.S. beam, match 70-mm-high headlamps from traditional designs. If the flux provided by comparable models are the same (300 lm minimum), Baroptic optimizes the distribution of the emitted light, according to L'Hermine.
The system can be positioned vertically, following the line of the vehicle, or horizontally, perpendicular to the road. This makes it adaptable to most car configurations, including sedans and coupes.