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Audi fits new R8 supercar with laser high-beam headlights

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Posted February 18, 2015

Audi is going to reveal its new R8 supercar at the Geneva Motor Show next month. And even though power and performance figures are much more interesting for car enthusiasts, seemingly mundane matter of headlights have been revised too. Audi’s new mid-engine sports car features high-tech headlights – LEDs that can be supplemented by a laser high-beam lighting module as an option.

Teaser shot of new Audi R8 with high-tech headlight visible, image courtesy of audi-mediaservices.com

Teaser shot of new Audi R8 with high-tech headlight visible, image courtesy of audi-mediaservices.com

Laser lighting uses high‑intensity laser diodes, which generate a lot of light despite being a very small component. Furthermore, laser high-beams offer twice as long range as LED high‑beam headlights. New system will offer greater efficiency and high light intensity as well. Technology in such headlights is revolutionary, yet not entirely new.

Every headlight contains one laser module that operates with four high‑intensity laser diodes. This produces four intense blue laser beams, which later are transformed by a phosphor converter into a pure white light. However, Audi says that blue light is still going to be visible in the headlights themselves and is going to be a signature of the new laser high-beams.

As already mentioned, such system cannot be called completely new, since Audi has been experimenting with it and actually using it in road cars as well. It was used in the Audi R18 e‑tron Quattro race car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and shortly afterwards it was used in Audi R8 LMX limited edition model. Moreover, Audi has always been interested in headlight innovations (for example, Audi introduced LED technology to the market for the first time in 2004), but now well-known car manufacturer is setting to become leader in the field of automotive lights with its new lighting competence centre.

Audi’s chiefs – Ulrich Hackenberg, Ricky Hudi and Wolfgang Huhn – opening the biggest automotive light tunnel in Europe, image courtesy of audi-mediaservices.com

Audi’s chiefs – Ulrich Hackenberg, Ricky Hudi and Wolfgang Huhn – opening the biggest automotive light tunnel in Europe, image courtesy of audi-mediaservices.com

New centre, opened in Audi‘s plant in Ingolstadt, essentially is a high-tech testing laboratory in a form of 120 meters long tunnel. It is the longest such tunnel in Europe. Audi says that light is part of an automobile’s aesthetics as well as function; therefore the lighting competence centre is a well-needed facility.

This novel facility is going to be used to test every possible innovation Audi can introduce in the area of headlights – from the new generation xenon headlights to the matrix‑LED headlights to the laser lights. The tunnel is painted matt‑black and is going to be used to test such systems as adaptive high beam and camera‑based lighting assistance. It is said that building the centre was a challenge in itself, since engineers had to do without supporting columns, but now it is going to help to put new ideas onto the road even faster.

New headlights will be revealed to public at the Geneva Motor Show next month, but having in mind that they are going to be mounted in the new long-awaited R8 it is likely that performance and styling of the new mid-engined supercar will cause more interest than the headlights technology. Nevertheless, Audi says that new technologies represent its core values – progressiveness, sportiness and sophistication – and therefore in the future laser lights might become an option on much more common Audi models.

Sources: Audi (link 1, link 2)

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