In short: Ford’s European division is testing new headlight technology designed to help keep drivers’ eyes on the road. Dubbed High-Resolution Headlights, the technology is loosely based on existing head-up displays that project useful information onto the windshield in front of the driver. Ford’s idea goes one step further by using the headlights to project even more information onto the road ahead of the vehicle.
A teaser video shows the headlights projecting information such as speed limits, turn arrows based on navigation and weather conditions, as well as a warning about an upcoming roundabout. Another possibility could see headlights paint a path to ensure cyclists are passed at a safe distance.
The tech could even help drivers do tough parking jobs by projecting the correct course of action to take, or highlighting the width of the vehicle to help determine if it can fit in a parking space or spot. . When stopped, the system could project a virtual crosswalk for pedestrians in situations where existing painted road markings are faded.
Ford’s idea could be useful in certain circumstances, but it could also open up a whole new Pandora’s box that the Blue Oval isn’t ready to handle.
On a dark country road with no other vehicles, it’s easy to see how this feature could benefit drivers. Move down a busy highway with other cars also using the same technology and you suddenly find yourself in the middle of what feels like a very distracted driving environment.
Even worse, imagine a nightmare scenario where someone hacks into the system to project the wrong turn arrows. You are driving and see an arrow indicating that the road is about to turn left when in reality the path turns right unexpectedly.
Ford’s projection headlights may also face different legal regulations in different markets.
Ford will not be the first to market this type of technology. Mercedes already offers a similar technology called Digital Light on some models like the S-Class.