Application of digital image processing techniques to the photometric testing of vehicle headlamps
The aim of this Interdisciplinary Higher Degrees project was the development of a high-speed method of photometrically testing vehicle headlamps, based on the use of image processing techniques, for Lucas Electrical Limited. Photometric testing involves measuring the illuminance produced by a lamp at certain points in its beam distribution. Headlamp performance is best represented by an iso-lux diagram, showing illuminance contours, produced from a two-dimensional array of data. Conventionally, the tens of thousands of measurements required are made using a single stationary photodetector and a two-dimensional mechanical scanning system which enables a lamp's horizontal and vertical orientation relative to the photodetector to be changed. Even using motorised scanning and computerised data-logging, the data acquisition time for a typical iso-lux test is about twenty minutes. A detailed study was made of the concept of using a video camera and a digital image processing system to scan and measure a lamp's beam without the need for the time-consuming mechanical movement. Although the concept was shown to be theoretically feasible, and a prototype system designed, it could not be implemented because of the technical limitations of commercially-available equipment. An alternative high-speed approach was developed, however, and a second prototype syqtem designed. The proposed arrangement again uses an image processing system, but in conjunction with a one-dimensional array of photodetectors and a one-dimensional mechanical scanning system in place of a video camera. This system can be implemented using commercially-available equipment and, although not entirely eliminating the need for mechanical movement, greatly reduces the amount required, resulting in a predicted data acquisiton time of about twenty seconds for a typical iso-lux test. As a consequence of the work undertaken, the company initiated an 80,000 programme to implement the system proposed by the author.