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Headlight technology has advanced radically in recent years, and this is how these automatic systems work
By JIL MCINTOSH - Driving.ca
At one time, virtually all car headlights pointed only straight ahead, and you had to turn them on and off, and operate the high-beam headlamps all by yourself.
Today, automatic headlamps are commonplace, and even many entry-level models can automatically switch the high-beams when they detect oncoming traffic. And among many premium models, you’ll find headlights that “bend” when you’re turning so you can see around the corner.
None of these ideas are new, of course. General Motors offered automatic high-beam headlights, called Autronic Eye, in the early 1950s. Even earlier, a couple of cars had headlights that swivelled when turning, including the experimental and ill-fated Tucker. But in addition to being a lot more common, these modern systems depend on far more sophisticated technology.
Today’s automatic headlamps come on whenever the switch is in the “auto” position and it’s dark enough to require them. They use a photoelectric sensor that’s usually mounted on top of the dash, or on the windshield near the rearview mirror. On some vehicles, the owner’s manual may warn you not to place items such as papers on the dash. It’s because these can block the sensor and prevent the lights from working.
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