Yesterday I went to a Lexus sponsored event called Taste of Lexus. The 'Taste of Lexus' is a program that Lexus puts on to build interest in their cars. They have a bunch of tents with food and demonstrations on their technology. The also have cars for you to test drive, both theirs and their competitors. What really caught my eye was a new [optional] feature they were touting on the 2007 Lexus ES350 sedan called the 'Dual-Swivel Adaptive Front Lighting System' (you can also get it on the RX350/400h, GS350/430/450h, and IS250/350, but there it is called the 'Adaptive Front Lighting System').
The concept behind the system is simple: when you turn the steering wheel, the headlight swivel to point slightly in the direction your are turning to illuminate that part of the road more clearly. Neat stuff, huh? But it would be a grave misnomer to taught it as a 'new idea' or a 'new technology.' In fact, headlights or driving lights that turn with the front wheels have been around for a very long time. The systems used previously were much simpler than Lexus' of course. Rather than using small servos to move the headlights a particular deviation from dead straight, the lights were simply connected to the steering mechanism through a mechanical connection, often just some extensions coming off of the steering rack.
Many luxury cars as early as the teens used swiveling driving light arrangements in addition to fixed headlights to better light the road ahead. This was especially important because lighting systems were very weak at the time. The most primitive systems, however, belonged to tiller-steered cars with acetylene lights attached directly to the end of the tiller, so the light simply moved with the tiller. One of the last major attempts at was by Tucker in 1948. The Tucker Torpedo had three headlights, the middle one turned with the steering wheel and was heralded as one of the many safety features that the car came equipped with. Few cars after that had driving lights that turned.
Photos, clockwise from lower left, are of a 1930 Packard 740 Custom Boattail Speedster (2 pictures), a 1948 Tucker Torpedo, and a 1898 La Nef.