Audi Announces Matrix Laser Lighting
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.
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.