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Any Model 3 with new projector headlights in the USA?


Supporting Member
Feb 23, 2021
Pale Blue Dot
That's not a projection headlight. That's the Matrix LED headlight that I showed. Shows it right at 32 sec that it's not a projection headlight.

Projectors are the round bulbs you see in a lot of cars' headlights. They typically provide a more uniform and even beam of light than reflector housing. Matrix LED can utilize projector style housing to provide LED lights as the main lighting source. They are not mutually exclusive.


Electrified Engineer
Supporting Member
Feb 2, 2021
Please show me this trick where a select area inside a projector bulb can be turned off. I would like to see this also.
It is not a trick. It's basic optical image projection, which has been going on for hundreds of years in magic lanterns, movie projectors, slide projectors, lately LCD and DLP projectors etc. And, it is simply the self-illuminating reversal of basic optical imaging capture, which evolved about half-a-billion years ago and is going on right now in your eyes as you read this.

Here's how basic optical imaging works (then we'll take the small leap to projection):
  • I'm going to skip pinhole imaging (no lens) which is interesting but not very practical for our present end-goal.
  • You need a surface to receive the image and capture it point-by-point.
    • In humans and animals, this is the retina with its array of photosensitive rods and cones.
    • In typical film cameras, this receiver is the film emulsion with its photosensitive silver-halide particles (and possibly arrangements of dye layers etc. to separate colors as applicable).
    • In modern digital cameras, this is the semiconductor image sensor with its photo-sensitive pixel-wells to convert photon energy to electron/hole charge.
  • For performance and practicality, we will introduce a lens to achieve a suitably short focus distance (so we can enclose the apparatus) and to pass far more light than a pinhole-aperture approach.
  • Now consider the light rays that come from any given point on the outside-world subject to be imaged:
    • There are light rays in all directions.
    • Obviously a very limited portion of these will happen to pass through our lens - but the bigger the lens, the greater the portion and therefore the greater the illumination onto our image-receiver (retina, film or sensor).
      • That's why a larger-diameter lens with no reducing aperture stop is known as a brighter or a "faster" lens.
    • If the image-receiver is at the correct focus distancefrom the lens, then all of these divergent traced rays from the given subject point, passing through various regions of the lens, will refract so that they re-converge onto one object or image-plane point - the focused image of the given subject point.
      • If the subject is pretty far away from the lens (so-called "infinity position"), then the correct focus distance is equal to the lens' focal length.
  • Repeat the description for many (many many) other subject points, imaging onto their corresponding focus-plane image points, and you have the built-up, complete object image illuminated onto the image-receiver.
    • Note that this object image will be inverted top-bottom and left-right because every light ray is crossing over from its source location (say in the upper-left of the subject), through the lens and onto the corresponding object-image point (say lower-right). This happens in your eyes also but your brain flips it back to perceive it correctly.
Now, let's make an image projector:
  • Start with a created image (inverted in X & Y as noted), of practical size and typically much smaller than the intended projected image:
    • This could be a photo or drawing on paper that is front-illuminated within the projector (so-called "opaque projector")
    • Or a transparent glass plate, or film slide or moving-picture film-strip, illuminated from the rear (magic lantern or slide/movie projector)
    • Or an electronically-created image using a self-illuminating matrix of bright LEDs, or for more detail a front- or rear-illuminated LCD panel, or a front-illuminated Digital Micro-Mirror Device (DMD) like a Texas Instruments DLP chip.
      • There are several choices here but not really "a projector bulb" as you premised; it's a controlled pixel array.
  • Place this bright image-creating source at the focal plane, same as we did for image-receiving optics described above.
  • The result will be an in-focus*, projected image onto outside-world surface(s): projection screens or (for headlights) walls, roadways, signs, people, cars, animals etc.
    • *A little bit of focus-blurring is acceptable, and I think actually helpful for the headlight application. We don't really want to see pixel boundaries or gaps, and I suppose extremely sharp and detailed beam-shape edges could be misinterpreted as actual objects. And for oncoming drivers, they still need to perceive your headlights as clearly being there, though not blindingly bright. So these considerations would factor into the headlight projected-image processing, and it's perhaps better to fuzz-up the spatial transitions enough to avoid any unnatural look or confusion. This also means we don't need or want a super-sharp projection lens and no need to spend for that.
  • In the automotive application, since we have presumably already built a parallel video imaging system for Driver-Assistance and safety, that system can be used to determine which points in the outside world (i.e. which light-ray projection angles) should be dimmed, we can use that to modify the source image pixels.
    • This is the basis of matrix headlights that are built into a projection housing.
Does the concept require this approach? No, we can also build a 1-d columnar array or a 2-d row+column array of individually-focused lamps (focused each with their own mini-reflector and/or mini-lens) and control those individually (you could consider this to be more like the projection version of a fly-eye imager rather than a retina-based single-lens imager).
Or we can create the headlight as one big condenser-focused beam design and then introduce an array of mechanical or electronic shutters in front to perform the selective dimming. I believe that the early "matrix" designs have been done in these ways. But as the technology matures, these early approaches are arguably more costly and certainly less versatile compared to the projected-imager method.
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Electrified Engineer
Supporting Member
Feb 2, 2021
Please show me this trick where a select area inside a projector bulb can be turned off. I would like to see this also.
Further to the explanation I gave in the previous message, here is a video I found with a discussion of HD-resolution projection in new Audi headlights. These use the DLP chip. Throughout the video you can see some examples of informational projection, a kind of HUD application.

Full disclosure: it happens that I do work for Texas Instruments, but I have no specific connection to the DLP product line and no one has asked me to promote here. I found this video by searching for matrix projection headlights. I'm on the forum because of my interest in Tesla, and I'm anxious to get a Model Y with the new headlights to assist in night driving. I don't know whether the new Tesla lights employ DLP - the video is about Audi.
So my TI connection is coincidental, but of course I'm enthusiastic about this technology and happy about the market for TI.

For all of us, I hope ADB lights becomes legally deployable in the USA soon, allowing Tesla to activate whatever the full functionality can give.
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I'm 99% certain that the new projector modules are those of Hella's SSL 100. Model 3 owners don't seem to tear their cars apart since nobody has put out an actual proof of the module in the new headlights. I might just do that soon...
"Matrix headlight" is how Audi has marketed those AFAIK?

SSL 100 has a "matrix" of 100 light pixels in it, you can actually see them by staring in to the projector, and it's capable of all the modern headlight tricks. It's not like the latest HD versions, but still plenty.

I can't confirm if the module itself turns, or if it can deliver the cornering lights by just moving the lit area of pixels more to left/right on the "matrix".
But it's 100% programmable via software to deliver all different beam widths and lengths (dynamic headlights), and also the non-glaring high beams.
100 pixels is plenty for those functions. Model 3 packs 3 cameras in front, I'd be surprised if you couldn't use those to give the necessary info of other road users in front to the headlight controllers.

My B8 passat, european, has the mechanical version of the non-glare led high beams and it works perfectly, and the car has only one front facing camera, and behind the projectors are only a handful of LED's. The non-glare function is achieved by rotating a cylindrical mask between the LED's and the projector lense. The mask has different positions for low beam, high beam, and masked high beam. The masked function masks the inner section of the beam coming from the projector, and both projectors are aligned to the spotted vehicle lights, oncoming or forward going, so that the masked part follows those. This older system just widens the shadowy gap between the projectors if there is oncoming traffic and tail lights in the area, thus it's not as sophisticated result as the one that can be achieved by individually controlled pixels in matrix array (multiple individual gaps ie. road signs + multiple vehicles).

I'm thrilled about these new model 3 headlights because I drive a lot in a pitch dark roads (scandinavia), and even without any tricks the new headlights seem to be pretty good, and what might future bring us?
Oh yea baby, bring us all the bells and whistles!


Electrified Engineer
Supporting Member
Feb 2, 2021
I'm 99% certain that the new projector modules are those of Hella's SSL 100.

Thanks, this is good information. Based on YouTube videos showing the beam pattern of the new lights, which looks somewhat blocky, I'd say 100 pixels could be about right. In this post, Elon is quoted mentioning LCD or DLP projection, but perhaps the cost increment and development resources were beyond the M3 / MY budget and schedule. I wouldn't be surprised if HD-imaging lights come to the flagship cars first.
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Active Member
Mar 3, 2012
O'Fallon, IL

A lot of us here would like a review of the USA spec LED Matrix headlights that are on the new MYP cars. I'd be especially interested if you previously owned a Model 3 with the older style lights so that you can do a comparison between the two lights.

We're dying over on the Model Y forum waiting for the MY LR to get the updated lights and need an honest review to help inform our decision to buy/wait.

Thanks in advance!
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Mar 22, 2021
as of yesterday all new model 3 at the service center had the new headlights.
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