Audi has developed a concept car that integrates laser technology in its headlamps. The new car will be presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA, which runs 7-10 January. By combining laser diodes with its existing MatrixBeam LED technology, Audi follows its German competitor BMW to demonstrate the future of lighting technology.
In the cars’ dual headlamps, trapezoidal elements are visible within the headlights - the outer one generates the low beam light using matrix beam LEDs, while the inner element produces laser light for high-beam functionality.
The laser high beam light follows on from Audi’s introduction of adaptive matrix-beam LED lighting at the CES exhibition in 2013. In Audi A8 models, 25 different LEDs are used for the high beam which can produce approximately 1 billion light distributions. When light from oncoming cars is recognised by the camera within the lighting system, the car automatically dims the LED light. This allows the driver to have the full beam lights on continuously without creating glare. Moreover, the LED lights are electronically controlled to adjust to curves in the road to provide extra visibility.
An advantage of using laser diodes in addition to matrix beam LEDs is that they are considerably smaller than LED diodes; they are only a few microns in diameter. The laser high-beam light has approximately twice the lighting range and three times the luminosity of LED high beam lights, illuminating the road for a distance of nearly 500 metres. ‘Laser headlights leave all previous systems in the dark with its higher performance,’ said Professor Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, member of the board of Audi AG Technical Development.
The concept car follows on from the BMW i8, which is the first mass production car to offer laser light technology. BMW's optional laser high beam light uses three laser diodes that generate blue laser beams, which are focused at small mirrors and then reflected onto a lens. Inside the lens is yellow phosphorus, which converts the blue laser beam into white light, which is then bounced off a reflector onto the road ahead.
BMW's laser light technology provides twice the visibility range of a conventional light, with five times higher brightness than its predecessor without lasers. At the same time less energy is used and the light emitting surface is significantly decreased.