On the UK’s shortest day Audi adds to the Christmas illuminations with advanced lighting that is now available for more models than ever before
- Intelligent Audi Matrix LED headlights now available on many of the latest models: TT, A4, A6, A7 Sportback and Q7
- S line versions of the A4, A6, A7, Q7 and TT fitted with all-LED headlights and LED rear lights as standard
- Xenon plus headlights with LED DRLs as standard for the rest of the S line range
- Laser lighting can also be specified on the all-new R8 and R8 V10 plus
- Dynamic sweeping turn signals also standard front and rear in combination with Matrix LED headlights
- Future lighting development work focusing on Matrix laser lights, laser rear fog light and OLED ‘Swarm’ technology
As darkness rapidly falls today, the shortest day of the year (sunrise in London 08.04, sunset 15.54), the UK will not only be carpeted with Christmas illuminations but also the largest ever range of Audi models equipped with pioneering lighting technology. Audi has long been a frontrunner in the field of automotive lighting and, true to form, the Vorsprung durch Technik brand is now ensuring that its most sophisticated developments are accessible on more of the UK range than ever before.
Low energy, high intensity LEDs are now available across the board for all Audi models, whether it is in the form of daytime running lights, all-weather LED headlights or Matrix LED units, the majority of which are standard depending on the specification chosen. Innovative laser lighting is also already starting to make its presence felt, initially in the form of spotlights for the new Audi R8 super sports car.
The most sophisticated headlamp which is already rapidly proliferating in the range is the Audi Matrix LED unit, which provides maximum illumination of the road and maintains a constant high beam without dazzling other road users. The adaptive unit is notable for operating fully electronically with no mechanical parts – instead, individual light-emitting diodes in each unit can be individually lit or dimmed in an instant, effectively diverting their beam around leading and oncoming traffic.
The Audi Matrix LED headlights also assume the function of cornering lights, shifting the focal point of the light through the bend by selectively brightening or dimming. They do this shortly before the wheel is turned based on predictive route data provided by the MMI navigation plus system.
Matrix LED for all-new A4 and beyond
Fitted as standard to all A8 Sport, Edition 21 and W12 models, as well as to the 520 PS S8 and 605 PS S8 plus, the technology has also now extended to six of the 11 Audi model lines currently available to order, including the all-new Audi A4, A6, A7 Sportback, Q7 SUV and TT. All models fitted with Matrix technology also feature front and rear dynamic indicators, which ‘sweep’ sequentially in the direction of intended travel in the space of just 150 milliseconds to alert surrounding drivers to the intention to turn significantly more effectively.
Advanced all-LED headlamp units can also be complemented in some Audi models by laser beams. The all-new R8 V10 and V10 plus super sports cars are available with laser spots which activate at 37mph to double the range of the high-beam light. Each of their headlight units incorporates a module with four powerful laser diodes that are just 300 micrometres in diameter. They generate a blue laser beam with a wavelength of 450 nanometres. A phosphorus converter converts it into white light with a colour temperature of 5,500 Kelvin.
Matrix laser – the next step
The next step will be Matrix laser headlights, which break the light beam down into tiny pixels to illuminate the road in high resolution and with precise control. The DMD (digital micromirror device) technology that Audi uses in the Matrix laser headlights is also used in many video projectors.
At its core is a matrix of hundreds of thousands of micromirrors, whose edges measure just a few hundredths of a millimetre in length. With the help of electrostatic fields, each individual micromirror can be tilted up to 5,000 times per second. The light is projected onto the road as a function of the position of the individual mirrors, optimally adapting the illumination of the road to the ambient conditions for the driver.
DMD technologies make it possible to create a nearly infinite number of light patterns. The car can thus generate the ideal light for any driving situation. The technical possibilities are virtually unlimited. Targeted light helps the driver to stay in lane through roadworks, for example. When turning or moving through junctions, it can show the driver the way, even projecting arrows or similar graphics onto the road, if desired. The high-resolution light can highlight important traffic signs or very precisely prevent the blinding of other road users with glare.
The Matrix laser headlights open up a huge degree of added safety for the driver and others nearby, and have significant implications for the piloted driving of the future. In urban traffic, for instance, they can lay down a pattern of light and dark zones directly in front of the car. This can act as a projected walkway to indicate to pedestrians that they can cross the street safely.
The future is OLED
The brand with the four rings is also making great strides in further developing lighting beyond the traditional ‘sealed unit’ headlamps of today, with a focus on greater use of precise laser lighting and OLED integration, allowing for organic, freely moving light sources and the introduction of ‘swarm’ technology.
Testing to replace conventional bulbs in rear lights with OLED units is already well underway, and Audi is working hard to increase the brightness and suitability for this purpose.
OLED coatings applied to the car body’s sheet metal are being experimented with, and the interactive and dynamic potential of ‘swarm’ lighting will also have a place on the roads in future.
The swarm works by creating a continuous light surface from tiny flickering lights that can illustrate the movement of a car, for example, when a right turn is made, they flow to the right; when the car is braked they flow more dynamically and diffusely. The faster the car is going, the faster they move. The driver in the car behind can thus always tell at a glance what the driver ahead is doing.
Laser rear fog light
The safety function of the rear fog light can be improved by using laser light, which is currently in its predevelopment stages. Generated by a laser diode at the rear of the car, it presents the trailing driver with a bright, clear signal, thus keeping them at a safe distance. If visibility is good, the beam from the laser rear fog light, which is fan-shaped and inclined slightly downwards, is seen as a red line on the road. The width of this line depends on the distance to the trailing vehicle: At a distance of 30 metres, the line is about as wide as the car. This clear signal is an unmistakable warning to the driver behind to maintain a safe following distance.
In fog or spray, the laser beam strikes the water droplets in the air and makes them visible; the line is then seen as a triangle. The laser rear fog light looks like a large warning triangle.
Back in the present day, every Audi ordered in S line specification is now equipped with LED daytime running lighting technology as standard. Xenon plus lights are twinned with LED daytime running lights for a broad light spread and exemplary daytime recognition on A1, A3, A5 and Q5 S line models, while the-all new A4, A6, A7 Sportback, Q7 and TT S line versions all graduate to all-LED headlamp units as standard, delivering levels of illumination comparable to daylight in addition to minimal energy consumption, a long service life and noticeably better visibility.