Considerations for the use of white light emitting diode (LED) sources to produce illumination for automotive forward lighting is presented. Due to their reliability, small size, lower consumption, and lower heat generation LEDs are a natural choice for automotive lighting systems. Currently, LEDs are being sucessfully employed in most vehicle lighting applications. In these applications the light levels, distributions, and colors needed are achievable by present LED technologies. However, for vehicle white light illumination applications LEDs are now only being considered for low light level applications, such as back-up lamps. This is due to the relatively low lumen output that has been available up to now in white LEDs.
With the advent of new higher lumen packages, and with the promise of even higher light output in the near future, the use of white LEDs sources for all vehicle forward lighting applications is beginning to be considered. Through computer modeling and photometric evaluation this paper examines the possibilities of using currently available white LED technology for vehicle headlamps. It is apparent that optimal LED sources for vehicle forward lighting applications will be constructed with hereto undeveloped technology and packaging configurations. However, the intent here in exploring currently available products is to begin the discussion on the design possibilities and significant issues surrounding LEDs in order to aid in the design and development of future LED sources and systems. Considerations such as total light output, physical size, optical control, power consumption, color appearance, and the effects of white LED spectra on glare and peripheral vision are explored. Finally, conclusions of the feasibility of current LED technology being used in these applications and recommendations of technology advancements that may need to occur are made.