Range Rover Sport is undoubtedly one of the most successful and desired SUVs on the market. The second generation, named L494, was presented in 2014 with a wide variety of accessories and cutting-edge technological solutions, which have led it to an unrivalled commercial success.
The design of Range Rover Sport is incredibly apt, strong of the Family Feeling Range Rover born with Evoque and passed on to all the next models; after a few years of life it was necessary to upgrade Range Rover Sport with a more modern design and, even if it seemed difficult to improve a car so successful, at the end of 2017 Land Rover presented the new Range Rover Sport, more beautiful and more equipped, stylistically inspired by the Velar.
The headlights of the 2014 model
The first series of Range Rover Sport was proposed with three types of headlight:
Halogen low beam, high beam and turning indicator; LED DRL and parking light.
Xenon low beam, and high beam; LED turning indicator; LED DRL and parking light with light guide.
AFS Bi-Xenon headlight:
Adaptive Xenon low beam and high beam; LED turning indicator; LED DRL and parking light with light guide; LED corner light.
The headlights of the 2018 model
The 2018 model is proposed with four types of headlight:
Full LED headlight:
24 LEDs for low beam, high beam, DRL and parking light; dynamic LED turning indicator.
LED Matrix headlight:
52 LEDs for DRL and parking light; dynamic LED turning indicator; LED Matrix low beam and high beam with Osram Smartrix technology.
Pixel LED headlight:
142 LEDs for DRL and parking light; dynamic LED turning indicator; Osram Pixel Smartrix low beam and high beam.
Pixel-Laser LED headlight:
144 LEDs for DRL and parking light; dynamic LED turning indicator; Laser Osram Pixel Smartrix low beam and high beam.
The Osram Smartrix technology
The Osram Smartrix technology provides for the use of high power LED groups, individually controllable and with variable brightness; this innovation will allow the headlights to "decide" which part of the road to illuminate and with what intensity, by turning on each LED separately and by controlling its power.
In this way the light beam will always be at maximum without dazzling the other drivers.
Our customers owning a Range Rover Sport fell in love with the Facelift, to the point of wanting right away to "refresh" his Sport L494.
We immediately have started what has been the longest and most complex Reverse-Engineering work we have ever done.
The “old” headlights
Range Rover Sport is equipped with an intelligent on-board electronic system, which later has been implemented on many other cars; the headlights are not managed via positive and negative signals, but partially through data signals.
Basically, although low beam, high beam and turning indicators are switched on via +12v and negative, the remaining functions are permanently powered at 12v (even when the car is switched off) so that the control units inside the headlight can always "listen", but the actual ignition signal is sent via the on-board Lin Bus network through a digital data wire.
The headlights of the Range Rover Sport, therefore, are a full-fledged "computer" with its own intelligent "brain” able to capture, decode and process data from a single wire.
The new headlights
As you might have guessed, also the new Matrix and Laser Matrix headlights work in a very similar way but in four years they have become much smarter.
The optical unit is controlled entirely by a large control unit located under the headlight, which is also always powered; the signals necessary for the operation of the LEDs are sent from the car. The model we have converted, that is the LED Matrix one, is equipped with automatic high beams, composed of four groups of 10 LEDs each, for a total of 40 LEDs. Each LED projects a vertical beam on the road and each beam can be controlled in order to illuminate a well-defined portion of the road up to 600 meters away.
From the beginning we understood that it wasn't going to be an easy work, but we did not imagine it would have been so complicated.
First of all, we built an interface board that, connected to the car, would have allowed us to "see" and record the data coming from the car, in order to save them on a computer; since on a single data line are intercepted the signals of the whole vehicle (e.g. air conditioning, doors position, speed, engine sensors...) it was necessary to identify the right data and find them into digital tables with millions of values.
We then measured the electrical consumption of each component so to be sure of how to behave to fix any failures.
Once this phase has been completed, we removed the connectors from the old headlights, in order to use them on the new ones.
In order to make the new headlights compatible with the old electrical system, we first had to understand how it works and replicate its functioning in the lab without having a MY2018 car at disposal. We have completely opened and disassembled the headlights, freed each bundle of cables and disassembled every single component.
With clearly visible cables and tracks, it has been relatively easy to identify the masses and powering of the LEDs; we then generated the tune of fifteen pages of electrical diagrams and notes, managing to turn on every LED in the way expected by OSRAM engineers.
Low beams, dynamic turning indicators and DRL
The low beam of the Matrix LED headlights was simple to switch on: we just had to find the right connection points with the original control unit and generate the right signal to activate them. We used the same technique for all the other functions.
The high beam lights
Since the high beams are so complex and since we couldn't automatically control them as required by the 2018 version of Range Rover Sport, we had to study the control and power supply ECUs, intercept the connections and bypass them in order to supply them externally with the right currents. The new electronics we made was then fixed with precision in an empty space; we have also added some small (but very powerful) tangential fans for their cooling.
In this phase it was necessary to have some computer programming knowledge: we developed a software that decodes the data coming from the old electrical system, understands what the car commands, generates a function and sends it to the correct cable with the right syntax. We then loaded this program into a micro-computer inserted into the new headlights and connected the Input and Output wires to it.
- Reading of the incoming data
- Searching the instructions for turning on the headlights
- I found "Turn on right turning indicator" (language 2014)
- I translate "Activate right turning indicator" (language 2018)
- Sending translated data to the "right turning indicator" wire
With some small electrical adjustments, we connected about 40 wires to each headlight, replacing the new connector with the old one and matching all the cables to the relative functions.
After sealing the optical groups, we mounted everything on the car using the standard connectors and... Voilà! Everything is working!
To ensure the reliability of our electronics, we have subjected the boards to voltages or currents greater than necessary, leaving every component under stress for hours or days, controlling the temperature and verifying the stability of the output current.
The high beams, so delicate and complicated, were left turned on for 48 consecutive hours without ever recording temperatures above 60°.
Watch the videos
Watch Matrix LED Headlights in action!
Here we show you the test following the completion of the Reverse-Engineering
Here the headlight turned on and working with dynamic turning indicator