We told you Audi was working on laser headlights, and now they come to fruition in the Audi R8 LMX.
A press release from Audi (press credentials required to view) said the R8, which was the first car to boast all-LED headlights and later dynamic turn signals will now be making like Dr. Evil’s sharks and getting frickin’ LASER BEAMS on its head…er, headlights. The technology Audi described as “the laser spot for high beams” reportedly will increase high beam range substantially, which Audi said is perfect for a supercar like the R8 LMX.
But first, the combination of laser high beams and LED headlights will be used on the R18 e-tron quattro at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15. Perhaps it’s the modern day equivalent of “win on Sunday, sell on Monday?”
Audi AG Board Member for Development Professor Ulrich Hackenberg said, “Audi has long dominated the most important 24-hour race. In addition to the outstanding TDI drive technology, a maximum light yield gives our pilots a major advantage, and with night racing in particular is a key factor to our success. The transfer of the laser headlight to the Audi R8 LMX underscores our leading position in lighting technology. The safety benefit this provides to the customer truly represents Vorsprung durch Technik,” or, for those of us who have to rely on Google Translate to make sense of die Deutsche, “projection by technology.”
The Audi press release explained how the lights work in more detail:
With the new laser high beams, one laser module per headlight generates a cone of light with twice the range of the all‑LED headlight. Each module comprises four high‑power laser diodes. With a diameter of just 300 micrometers, these generate a blue laser beam with a wavelength of 450 nanometers. A phosphor converter transforms this into roadworthy white light with a color temperature of 5,500 Kelvin – ideal conditions for the human eye that enable the driver to recognize contrast more easily and help prevent fatigue. The laser spot, which is active at speeds of 60 km/h (37.3 mph) and above, supplements the LED high beam in the R8 LMX and greatly enhances visibility and safety. An intelligent camera‑based sensor system detects other road users and actively adjusts the light pattern to exclude them.
I can’t wait to see this technology trickle down into cars we mere mortals might be able to afford. Lighting is one of the fastest-developing fields of car technology, and yet, so many new cars today still are stuck with lighting technology that is 20 years old or even older, producing lighting that is far too easy to over-drive on the highway.