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In brief: Ford's European division is testing new headlight technology designed to help keep drivers' eyes on the road. Dubbed high-resolution headlights, the tech is loosely based on existing heads-up displays that project helpful 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 in front of the vehicle.
A teaser video demonstrates the headlights projecting information like speed limits, navigation-based turn arrows and weather conditions as well as a warning about an upcoming roundabout. Another possibility could see the headlights paint a path to ensure cyclists are passed at a safe distance.
The tech could even help drivers nail a tough parking job by projecting the correct driving line to take, or highlight the width of the vehicle to help determine if it can fit in a gap or parking space. 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 helpful under certain circumstances, but it could also open a whole new can of worms that the Blue Oval is not ready to deal with.
On a dark country backroad with no other vehicles around, it is easy to see how this feature could be beneficial to drivers. Move to a busy freeway with other cars also using the same tech and you are suddenly in the midst of what sounds like a very distracted driving environment.
Worse yet, imagine a nightmare scenario where someone hacks the system to project the wrong turn arrows. You're cruising along and see an arrow indicating the road is about to turn left when in reality, the path unexpectedly veers to the right.
Ford's projecting headlights may also have to contend with different legal regulations in different markets.
Ford won't be the first to market with this sort of tech. Mercedes already offers a similar tech called Digital Light on select models like the S Class.