Audi’s controversial headlights are about to make the next step
We admit to being upset when, three months after buying an A4 Avant, Audi facelifted the range, including new DRLs. A cool, thin continuously illuminated band replaced what suddenly looked no more sophisticated than a string of fairy lights.
Irritatingly, the next innovation means current cars will not feel the dead hand of obsolescence so heavily on their shoulders. The tech in the upcoming Matrix LEDs is all in the – normal looking – main beam.
Made of multiple LEDs, each can be dimmed or switched off individually to avoid dazzling whatever is infront – another car, pedestrians, wild animals – all monitored via camera. They can full beam illuminate the spaces in between cars, on motorways for instance.
Backed with lenses or reflectors, and linked to the satnav, Matrix LEDs will automatically swivel on corners without complex motors like current adaptive lights.
Meanwhile, at the back, Laser Diodes – pointing slightly down – will project a red line on the road behind to show following drivers when they are too close. In rain or spray, the droplets catch the laser and turn the projection into a red (warning) triangle, visible even in thick fog or smoke.
At the Los Angeles Consumer Electronics Show last week, the company said it has overcome all the technical issues and will introduce Matrix LEDs and Laser Diodes on production cars ‘soon’.
After LEDs come OLEDs, Organic Light Emitting Diodes. Spread extremely thin and sandwiched between glass plates, with electrical current the whole surface lights up. The thinner they can make it the brighter it becomes. The plates can be arranged in any pattern, even to build 3D sculptures within the light housings, sure to impress your neighbours and friends. OLEDs can also be used on the car’s exterior to illuminate the door handles or main contours as the driver approaches.
Still someway from production reality is The Swarm, a development of OLEDs whereby the surface of the car itself is made into a light surface. Thousands of tiny lights react instantly to driver inputs, be that braking, accelerating or turning, leaving the driver behind in no doubt as to what the car in front is doing.
To see Audi’s nect generation lights in action see these videos on YouTube: Matrix LEDs; Laser Diodes; OLEDs; The Swarm. To read about all the tech unveiled by Audi at the 2013 Los Angeles Consumer Electronics Show click here.