For many years Audi has been the leader in developing automotive lighting technology. The Audi engineers work very closely with their racing colleagues on the development. The history of the development is extraordinary. Extremely high tech, who knew?
In 2003 the Audi A8 introduced “adaptive light”. The adaptive light is an Audi technology for the xenon plus headlights. A controller manages swiveling modules so that they always deliver the perfect light for urban, interurban and highway driving. It controls the range of the lights using a video camera mounted in the front of the inside mirror to recognize vehicles in front or approaching vehicles. The high beam assistant detects oncoming vehicles and towns based on their illumination and switches automatically between the high and low beams.
Adaptive light can also network with the navigation system to anticipate upcoming road conditions. The navigation system can inform the light computer to activate longer range highway light while still on the on-ramp to the highway or switch on the cornering light before entering the intersection.
In 2004 LED daytime running lights were introduced. The daytime running lights are integrated into the headlights and make use of white light-emitting diodes that only consume a few watts of power. The wraparound of the LED’s highlight the vehicle design and enhance safety.
In 2008, the Audi R8 became the first production car in the world to boast all‑LED headlights. The LED headlights deliver an unmistakably striking appearance. With a color temperature of around 5,500 Kelvin, their light resembles daylight and is much less tiring for the eyes. The light-emitting diodes are zero-maintenance and designed for the life of the vehicle. The low beams consume only around 40 watts per unit much less than conventional halogen headlights.
By 2012 Xenon headlights, dynamic turn signals, and LED rear lights had all been introduced. The rear LED lights produce a distinctive light pattern that can appear three-dimensional. They use very little power, are long lasting, and come to full brightness faster than other bulbs.
2013 brought Matrix LED headlights. With these headlights, the high-beam unit is made up of 25 individual segments. The small light-emitting diodes, work in conjunction with lenses and reflectors to activate, deactivate or dim individually according to the situation. The Audi Matrix LED headlights get the information they need from a camera, the navigation system and other sensors to react to other cars and road conditions to illuminate the road brightly but not distract other drivers.
In 2014 laser technology is added. Matrix Laser technology operates with a rapidly moving micro-mirror, which redirects the light from blue laser diodes. A phosphor converter converts it into white light with a color temperature of 5,500 Kelvin, ideal conditions for the human eye that enables the driver to recognize contrast more easily and help prevent fatigue.
At low vehicle speeds, the light is adjusted to cover a very wide range. At high speeds the intensity and range of the light are increased significantly. The new laser high beam generates a cone of light with twice the range of the all‑LED headlight. An intelligent camera‑based sensor system detects other road users and actively adjusts the light pattern to exclude them.
The combination of LED and laser high beams was used on the Audi R18 e‑tron quattro at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Another example of using racing to test new technologies destined for production vehicles.
Audi has a lot going on behind the scenes to deliver the latest cutting-edge technology in lighting – Who Knew?
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