Automotive Lighting:  Design and Technology
I.D. # C0202 Duration 2 Days

Since the invention of the automobile, lighting has been an important subsystem on all ground vehicles. Automotive lighting is vital to passenger safety, comfort and vehicle styling. The technology used in automotive lighting has rapidly expanded to make the lighting more value added, safer and pleasing to customers. This seminar provides broad information about automotive lighting systems with emphasis on lighting functions, effectiveness, and technologies. The intent is to assist attendees to gain sufficient knowledge about automotive lighting and its importance in overall vehicle design and development. Since only the exterior lighting devices on the ground vehicles are regulated by the federal and local governments, and standardized by the SAE Lighting Committee and the international communities, this course will only address automotive exterior lighting.

This course has been approved by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) for 13 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Upon completion of this seminar, accredited reconstructionists should mail a copy of their course certificate and the $5 student CEU fee to ACTAR, PO Box 1493, North Platte, NE 69103.

Learning Objectives
By attending this seminar, you will be able to:
  • Describe various automotive lighting technologies
  • Articulate the legal aspects and implications related to automotive lighting
  • Examine safety measurements used with lighting functions and human factors costs
  • Discuss the latest advancements in lighting technologies and trends in lighting styling

Who Should Attend
This seminar is of benefit to a wide audience, including: Automotive body engineers responsible for lighting and vehicle interface and integration; vehicle stylists who are interested in lighting effects on vehicle cosmetics; regulatory personnel involved with the legal specifications of automotive lighting; marketing specialists who are interested in customers' preferences based on the relationship of human vision and lighting; and newcomers in the automotive industry who need to obtain a general overview of lighting
Participants should have an undergraduate engineering or related degree.
Seminar Content


  • Introduction
  • Fundamentals of Automotive Lighting
    • Light -- What is light; Definition of light; Types of light; Visible light; Generation of light
    • Light Measurements -- Basic concept; photometry and radiometry; Color of light; Terms of photometry; Photometry units comparison; Photometry and radiometry unit conversion; Photometry and radiometry calculations
    • Lighting; Illumination Devices -- Functions of an illumination device; Types of illumination devices; Basic structure of illumination devices
    • Classification of Automotive Lighting -- Forward lighting and signal lighting; Headlamps; Fog lamps (front and rear); Daytime running lamps; Stop & tail lamps; Turn signal lamps (front and rear); Other lamps
    • Requirements for Automotive Lighting - - Regulations and industry standards; Performance; Testing
  • Light Sources Used in Automotive Lighting
    • Basics of Light Source -- Incandescent; Discharge; Fluorescent; Solid- state; Electroluminescent; Light source comparison
    • Light Source Characteristics -- Light emitter geometry; Light output from a light source; Life; Light source operation and testing; Bulb accuracy levels
    • Types of Light Sources Used for Automotive Exterior Lighting -- Incandescent bulbs; Tungsten halogen bulbs; HID subsystem (burner, starter & ballast); Neon light source (emitter & ballast); LED source (LED package, circuit board & control device)
    • Major North America Automotive Light Source Suppliers -- Osram (OSI & OOS); Philips (including Lumileds); Others
  • Automotive Lamp Photometry Design
    • Optical Design Principles -- Optics; Geometrical optics; Imaging optics; Non-imaging optics; Reflection; Refraction; Transmission; Dispersion
    • Light Control; Collections and Manipulations -- Light collectors; reflectors and lenses; Light manipulators (reflector optics, lens optics, diffusers, light guides and fiber optics, reflex); Etendue


  • Optical Design for Automotive Lamps -- Automotive lamp configurations; Optical design step 1; feasibility study; Optical design step 2; setup strategy; Optical design step 3; design optics; Optical design step 4; simulations; Other considerations; Light source selection; CAE for optical design and simulation
  • Automotive Lamp System Configuration
    • Automotive Lamp System Design Overview -- System level specifications; Vehicle interface
    • Automotive Lamp Thermal Analysis -- Purpose; Heat transfer; Empirical database; CFD lamp thermal model
    • Automotive Lamp Venting Analysis -- Understanding moisture; Moisture and condensation in a lamp; Venting analysis; Vent design
    • Automotive Lamp System Analysis -- CAD tools used in automotive lamp design; Lamp thermal analysis; Lamp venting analysis; Lamp structural analysis; Lamp mold accuracy analysis; Lamp assembly analysis
    • Human Factor Considerations -- What are human factors; Headlamp safety; seeing distance; Glare; Headlamp aiming issue; Headlamp mounting height issue; Headlamp lens issue; Signal detection; Lamp design for human factor optimizations
  • New Automotive Lighting Technologies
    • Advanced Optical Structures for Automotive Lamps -- Combination of projector & free-form reflectors (P&F) headlamps
  • Improved projector modules
    • Dual-Function HID (Bi-Xenon) Lamps -- System; Reflector type dual-function HID lamp; Projector type dual-function HID lamp
    • Distributive Lighting System (DLS); a Remote Lighting System Using Fiber Optics -- System; DLS headlamp application; Other DLS applications
    • Adaptive Forward-lighting System (AFS); an Intelligent Lighting System -- System; Desired beam pattern variations; Driving and environment condition measurements; AFS design option I; add beam contributor(s); AFS design option II; rotate headlamps; AFS design option III; vary component(s) in the headlamp
    • Night Vision System -- System definition; Infrared and IR cameras; Types of night vision systems; Examples of night vision systems

Instructor(s): Jianzhong Jiao

Dr. Jianzhong Jiao is an internationally recognized expert for LEDs and lighting technology development, products design, testing, standards, and regulations. He is an independent consultant in the areas of LEDs and lighting technology, product, and business strategies, standards, regulations and compliances, civil and intellectual property litigations, and technology investments. He is the past Chair of the SAE Lighting Committee, past Chair of NGLIA, past Chair of NEMA SSL Section Technical Committee, and current Chair or active member of the committees in SAE, IES, ANSI, NEMA, UL, ASABE, CIE-USA, IEEE, JEDEC, and SEMI. He is the Organizer and Chair for SAE World Congress Lighting Technology Conference, member of the Organizing Committee and Chair of SPIE SSL Symposium, member of the Technical Panel of Strategies in Light (SIL). Dr. Jiao also teaches seminars and short courses for SAE, SPIE, SIL, and Light Fair International. He also served as an adjunct professor teaching physics and electrical engineering courses at Purdue University and Lawrence Technological University. Dr. Jiao holds a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University, a M.S. degree in Applied Physics, and a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is titled to 9 U.S. Patents and has over 40 technical papers and magazine articles, and given numerous invited presentations to international events. Dr. Jiao is an SAE Follow, a Senior Member of SPIE, and has received multiple industry awards.

"This course is a must for newcomers to automotive lighting or for designers and engineers coming from non-optics background."

Michael Piscitelli

Electronics Systems Engineer

Sapphire Technical Solutions, LLC


"An excellent overview that encompasses the latest technologies as well as the fundamentals necessary to understand them."

James Wilson

Global Technology Manager

GE Advanced Materials


"This seminar was a very good overview of automotive lighting."

Darrin Roberts


Honda R&D Americas


"This is a valuable program for any one who is interested in the automotive lighting industry be it OEM, Tier 1 Supplier or Equipment Supplier."

Jeff Mateer

Sales Engineer

Leybold Optics


"Very good course for many levels involved in automotive lighting."

Craig Landcastle

Product Engineering Manager

Osram Sylvania Products


"Excellent general overview of lighting systems and fundamental component design and theory."

Gary L. Durian

Project Engineer

J.W. Speaker Corporation


"Very interesting for engineers involved in headlamp development to better know where challenges are."

Christophe Lemarechal

Product Expert

Prevost Car, Inc.


"The contents of this course will enable me to understand the principals of lamp design and performance."

Kevin Davis

Director of Quality

Sea Link International


"An excellent course for anyone new to automobile lighting design."

Micheal D. Dolson

Senior Mechanical Designer

Autosystems Mfg., Inc.


Fees: $1299 SAE Members: $1169


CEU 1.3