Adaptive headlights finally legal in US with Biden's infrastructure bill signed into law

We'll finally be treated to some great tech that outdated regulations kept from our shores.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Audi Digital Matrix LED Headlamps
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Audi Digital Matrix LED Headlamps

Audi's ingenious Digital Matrix LED (DML) headlamps can selectively dim certain parts of the road ahead to avoid blinding other drivers.


Here come the adaptive headlights. With Monday's signing ceremony for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, President Biden's pen stroke did more than unlock billions of dollars for infrastructure in the US. The law opens the door for the latest headlight technologies to finally hit the road here.

Adaptive headlights go by many different names, depending on which brand's touting their own tech, but Audi's Digital Matrix LED headlights are one of the better-known examples. What these headlights can do is automatically shut off certain clusters of LEDs while you're driving. Today, headlights in the US really just go from bright, to really bright when flicking on the high beams. Sure, automatic high beams are a thing, but adaptive headlights take things 10 steps further.

Say you're driving on a dark road off the highway and a car approaches from the opposite direction. The headlights see this, shut down the cluster of lights that would end up blinding the other driver in oncoming traffic and keep your lane completely lit with as much light as possible. The technology can do this for multiple cars, too, if different lanes.

It doesn't end there, however. Adaptive headlights can project patterns onto the road to help drivers see when a lane ends and some brands are tinkering with symbols splashed onto the road to let drivers known of hazards up ahead, such as ice. The possibilities are enormous for the wild lighting tech.

As for the meat and potatoes of the newly updated regulations, the bill turns to the secretary of transportation to officially make adaptive headlights a thing within two years. So, at the latest, we could see this fancy tech on numerous new cars by 2024, but perhaps even sooner than that.

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