Car lighting makeover makes driving safer and delightful: BMW engineers

Washington, Aug 16 (ANI): A recent survey has revealed that the use of gentle ambient interior lighting potentially enhances night driving safety and increases the feel good factor about vehicle interiors.

Engineers based at BMW in Munich, led by Luca Caberletti, together with Christoph Schierz from the Lighting Engineering Group at Ilmenau University of Technology decided to test different lighting set ups on drivers.

The test took place in a driving simulation environment where 31 people 'drove' a real stationary vehicle on a virtual highway with the driving environment projected onto three screens around the front and sides of the car.

The light levels on the simulated street were between 0.1 cd/m2 and 1.5 cd/m2."

The researchers tested twelve different lighting scenarios, with varying light colour, luminance and position.

In this study drivers were questioned on space perception, perceived interior quality and attractiveness, perceived safety, functionality and alertness. The drivers' emotional states were also measured before and after the simulations, using a questionnaire.

The researchers found that the driver's whole perception of the car interior is improved through the use of ambient lighting while driving. It intensifies space perception, enhances the perceived quality of materials and design, helps them find controls and with their orientation in the car, and makes them feel safer.

However, less is more when it comes to ambient lighting: a sprinkling of ambient lights can be just as effective as larger numbers in giving an impression of space and quality.

In fact increasing the brightness does nothing to enhance impressions of the interior or help the driver, but rather leads to driver complaints of distraction from discomfort or glare.

Importantly, ambient lighting did not influence the driver's performance (although this was restricted to staying within a lane in this test).

"The advantages and problems arising from such systems, as well as their acceptance by the drivers, have still to be tested and verified," said Caberletti.

"Nevertheless, they offer a new, interesting, emotional and much more coloured way of understanding and developing vehicle interior lighting," he added.

The findings were published in the journal Lighting Research and Technology published by SAGE. (ANI)

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