Audi further extends its lead in automotive lighting technology with a worldwide innovation, the Audi Matrix LED headlight. This involves three main aspects: in the future, car lighting will react even more sensitively to environmental conditions, it will communicate in various ways with its surroundings, thus helping to further increase active safety.
Light of the future: Audi’s matrix laser technology
Introduction of high-resolution matrix laser technology is Audi’s next development step in automotive lighting technology. At CES, Audi will be exhibiting the Audi prologue piloted driving show car which has the new solution on board. In addition, the technology will be on display in a dedicated exhibit.
For Audi, matrix laser technology opens up all-new possibilities. Compact projectors coupled with mirrors generate a high-resolution laser light which can be finely tuned to illuminate the entire roadway. The projectors are discrete from the headlights and installed deep inside the engine compartment. From there, glass fiber strands route the light to lenses forming the headlights’ pupils. Set below these are five additional lenses enclosed in a delicate lightweight structure. Fed via glass fibers themselves, they further enhance forward illumination.
Matrix laser headlights are yet slightly more energy-efficient than matrix LED headlights. The principle of discrete light sources offers new avenues in the packaging and design of the headlights. Also, this solutions simplifies thermal management in the headlights.
Light rails: construction area lighting
Construction area lighting is a future new function of matrix LED and matrix laser technology. It projects two light strips about 15 meters (49.2 ft) in length denoting the car’s width. When passing through construction areas or other such narrow segments, the new lighting function will help the driver estimate available clearance to the left and right.
The most recent highlight: a laser spotlight for the highbeam
The new laser highbeam spotlight consists of a light cone generated by a laser module in each headlamp with a range of several hundred meters (over 500 ft). Each module employs four powerful laser diodes a mere 300 micrometers in diameter generating a monochromatic and coherent blue laser beam with a wavelength of 450 nanometers. A phosphorus converter turns it into traffic-compatible white light with a color temperature of 5,500 kelvin. The laser spotlight is active at speeds of 60 km/h (37.3 mph) and higher and provides the driver with significantly improved sight and safety.
The laser spotlight for the highbeam saw its world debut in the Audi R8 LMX high-performance sports car, the exclusive edition model of the dynamic Audi R8 model line, in the summer of 2014, Ahead of its launch in series production, the spot premiered in the Audi R18 e-tron race car at the 24h race in Le Mans, another instance of Audi first proving its new series technologies in racing, the world’s toughest testing ground.
Intelligent light: matrix LED headlights.
Matrix LED headlights as available in several model lines are symbolic of Audi’s knowhow in modern automotive lighting technology. Their light always delivers excellent illumination without blinding other road users. To ensure this, each headlamp is divided into up to 25 segments, one for each light diode.
When the light switch is set to automatic and the high beams are on, the system will be activated outside urban areas at speeds of 60 km/h (37.3 mph) and above. As soon as the connected camera detects other traffic, which includes cyclists, for instance, the controller will immediately switch off selected LEDs or dim them in up to 64 steps, making several million light distributions feasible in the A8*. The headlights blank out oncoming vehicles and vehicle driving ahead while providing continued full illumination of the areas between and beside them. As soon as oncoming cars have moved past, the headlights will automatically switch back to full power.
The LEDs in the Matrix LED headlights include cornering light functionality, which selectively brightens or dims to shift the focal point of the light along a curve. This is done just before the steering wheel is turned based on predictive route data provided by the MMI navigation plus.
Powerful and highly efficient: LED headlights
LED headlights from Audi produce a light with a color temperature of around 5,500 kelvin, making it resemble daylight. The LEDs are maintenance-free and designed to last the life of the car. The low beams consume only around 40 watts per unit, somewhat less than the already highly efficient xenon plus headlights. The LED headlights have special features for the city, intersections and interurban roads as well as for freeway driving, left-hand traffic and poor weather.
LEDs do not become particularly hot, with red light-emitting diodes reaching about 120 and white ones 150 degrees centigrade (250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit) – much less than halogen headlights, which generate temperatures of up to 400 degrees centigrade (750 degrees Fahrenheit). Fans direct heat generated by the LEDs against the headlight cover to keep it free of condensation and snow in winter.
LED headlights are pure hightech: in the A3 series for instance, eight high‑performance LEDs in the matte aluminum trim provide the high beams; nine high-performance LED chips in two free-form reflectors generate the low beams. Cornering and all-weather lights are housed in a dedicated module. Daytime running lights, parking lights and turning signals, which are fed via glass fiber, run around the headlamps at the top and on the inside as a small strip.
In some larger models, LED headlights cooperate with the optional night vision assistant to enable an additional safety function. When the night vision assistant detects a person in the critical area in front of the car, individual LEDs blink three times in quick succession. This highlights the person against the background, warning both them and the driver.
Showing the way: dynamic turning signals
Dynamic turning signals are available for numerous models, giving clear and unambiguous indication about the direction in which the car is about to turn. This enables other traffic participants to recognize them even in low visibility or on approach from the corner of the eye, as it were, significantly contributing to safety in road traffic.
The turning signal consists of individual LEDs and LED blocks. When the driver activates the turn signal, individual LEDs light up sequentially from the inside out. After 150 milliseconds, all segments will be fully lit up and remain so for another 250 milliseconds. The LEDs then go dark before repeating the lighting sequence.
Distinctive looks: LED daytime running lights and LED taillights
Daytime running lights consisting of white light emitting diodes are available in different designs for every Audi. The Audi A1, for example, uses two LEDs per headlight. They emit their light into a transparent polymer tube, the light guide. This generates a uniform contour. The LED and matrix LED headlights in the new Audi TT project daytime running lights via three bars structuring the headlamp like a grille. Thick-screen optics ensure homogeneous illumination.
Rear lights using LED technology are available either standard or as an option for all Audi models. They produce a distinctive light pattern which in many cases also creates three-dimensional effects. The LEDs are extremely long-lasting and practically maintenance-free. The most important thing, however, is how extremely quickly they reach their full luminosity, providing the driver of a following car with precious fractions of a second in the event of a sudden unexpected emergency stop. In addition, many Audi models come with adaptive brake lights which pulse at high frequency in emergency braking.
Versatile: adaptive light
The adaptive light’s control unit governs the swiveling of the xenon plus modules to consistently provide optimum illumination whether traveling on city streets, country roads or expressways. Drivers can configure the swivel characteristics via the Audi drive select.
A particularly attractive component of the adaptive light is the variable headlight range control. A video camera detects preceding and oncoming vehicles by their lights. The control module then adapts the car’s lighting to the distance to the other vehicles – via a soft transition that always maximizes the amount of illumination.
Networking with the MMI navigation plus system makes the adaptive light even more capable as the navigation system relays route data to the light controller, activating expressway lighting while still in the approach lane, for example. The system automatically switches on the cornering lights before entering an intersection; in countries such as the United Kingdom or Japan, it will automatically switch the headlights from right-hand driving to left-hand driving.
Interactive: Audi’s light exhibits at CES
At 2015 CES, Audi uses the virtual engineering terminal, an interactive platform on which the visitor can move vehicle models with his hands, to present innovative lighting functions. This includes construction area lighting, cornering lights, marking light, dynamic turning signals, matrix LED headlights and laser technology. Light distributions evolve depending on how the cars move. These distributions are clearly visible both directly and on a large monitor.
Another CES exhibit is the Audi Matrix OLED. 16 platelets made up of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), each 40 by 40 millimeters (1.6 x 1.6 inches) in size make up a three-dimensional pixel surface. A visitor looking on directly will see the Audi logo appear in homogeneous red while one looking on from the side will see the Four Rings. This exhibit is symbolic of Audi’s creative treatment of light as a subject and the close interplay between design and technology.
Equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice.