When it comes to the latest in automotive technology developments, autonomous features and hyper-efficient drivelines seem to capture the majority of the headlines. However, Audi is adding to the tech fest with its new matrix laser headlights, which promise to offer superior illumination that is dynamic and highly variable, improving visibility for the driver and reducing glare for oncoming traffic.

Here’s how it works: first, blue laser diodes (produced by the multinational lighting manufacturer OSRAM) radiate light in the 450-nanometer wavelength onto a quickly moving 3-mm micro-mirror (produced by the German engineering company Bosch). The mirror then bounces the beam to a converter, which turns it into white light, projecting it out onto the road ahead. 

At low speeds, the light is distributed over a wide area, while at higher speeds, it’s more focused, offering better range. Audi says “the brightness of different lighting zones can be varied by controlling the illumination dwell times in the specific zones,” which basically means the system offers much greater precision than traditional headlights (as it should be, considering it uses frickin’ laser beams).

The tech is based on Audi’s LaserSpot high-beam lamps, first seen on the front of the 2015 Audi R8 LMX. No word has been given on where this technology will be used next, but for those of you living in the U.S., don’t get your hopes up – decades-old NHTSA regulations mandating manual high/low beams are still place, preventing the tech from coming stateside for now.

Continue reading to learn more about Audi’s new Matrix Laser technology.

Why it matters

You gotta hand it to Audi when it comes to offering customers the cool-sounding tech, even for something as routine as headlight illumination. LEDs are all the rage now, but I can see matrix lasers catching on simply for the bragging rights. BMW is in the running when it comes to bringing this tech to market, as on the i8 hybrid sports car, but Audi seems to be keeping pace. 

While expensive now, costs will eventually fall with development. Are we approaching the point where every car is equipped with lightsabers sticking out of the fascia? Let’s hope so.

2015 Audi R8 LMX

2015 Audi R8 LMX High Resolution Exterior
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Before the R8 sees an overhaul for the next generation, Audi is offering a more powerful version of the current model called the LMX. Included is an awesome blue paint job, new 19-inch wheels, carbon-fiber reinforced plastic aero, and of course, laser-powered headlights. The interior is bathed in acres of Alcantara and Nappa leather, with carbon and CFRP trim. Mounted in the middle is a 5.2-liter V-10 powerplant producing 570 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. When that muscle is routed to all four wheels through a seven-speed S Tronic transmission, this German rocket ship can hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and reach a top speed just a tick below 200 mph.

Read our full review here.

Press Release

Audi is further extending its lead in automotive lighting technology. In the sponsored project “intelligent laser light for compact and high-resolution adaptive headlights” (iLaS), the brand with the four rings is working on the headlights of the future with partners from industry and science. Matrix Laser technology and its high resolution will make roadway illumination even more flexible and highly versatile – in all situations.

Matrix Laser technology is based on the LaserSpot for high‑beam lamps, which Audi first introduced to production in the Audi R8 LMX*. For the first time, bright lasers are making it possible to integrate projector technology in a compact and powerful headlight.

The new technology operates with a rapidly moving micro-mirror, which redirects the laser beam. At low vehicle speeds, the light is distributed to a larger projection area, and the road is illuminated with a very wide range. At high speeds, the aperture angle is smaller, and the intensity and range of the light are increased significantly. This is especially advantageous in highway driving. In addition, the light can be distributed precisely. This means that the brightness of different lighting zones can be varied by controlling the illumination dwell times in the specific zones.

Also new is intelligent and lightning-fast activation and deactivation of the laser diodes in relation to the mirror position. This makes the broadening or narrowing of the luminous beam dynamic and highly variable. As with today’s Matrix LED headlights from Audi, the road is always brightly lit without causing glare to other participants in traffic. The crucial difference is that Matrix Laser technology offers even finer dynamic resolution and therefore a higher degree of utilization, which leads to greater safety in road traffic.

In the new technology, blue laser diodes from OSRAM radiate their light, which has a wavelength of 450 nanometers, onto a quickly moving mirror that is three millimeters in size. This mirror redirects the blue laser light to a converter, which converts it to white light and projects it onto the road. The mirror used for this, which comes from the Bosch company, is a micro-optical system that features electro-mechanical control and is based on silicon technology. It is very sturdy and exhibits very long life. Such components are also used for accelerometers and control units for electronic stability control.

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