Auto Tech

Watch a Mercedes-Maybach S-Class compliment strangers with its headlights

The Mercedes Digital Light system can display words and images using an array of LEDs and reflectors in the headlights.

Headlights that can display messages could go a long way in improving safety for both occupants and pedestrians, but it can also be used for flattery.

Mercedes-Benz put out a new video showcasing what its Digital Light system can do. Equipped on a Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, the video shows the car's headlights displaying various messages to passersby, tailoring each response to each person. Somehow, nobody freaks out, despite the fact that a car is attempting to talk with a human being through light projections.

It might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but it's a real system that promises real benefits. Originally debuting at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, Digital Light packs over 1 million tiny reflectors inside the headlights that, when arranged a certain way, can display words or images on the ground ahead of the vehicle.

It can function as a different kind of HUD, offering warnings about low-grip surfaces or blind-spot monitoring on the road ahead of the driver. It can also be used to let pedestrians know when they have the right of way, putting an arrow or crosswalk stripes on the road. Future iterations could be incorporated into performance vehicles, offering the best driving line for a given road. The sky's the limit, really.

Of course, something this cutting-edge is bound to be expensive, which is why you won't see this on the entry-level A-Class sedan. Instead, Digital Light will make its debut on Daimler's best-of-the-best Mercedes-Maybach lineup, and that rollout should happen some time later this year.