Audi Working On Frickin’ Laser Beams

I’ll bet you’ve occasionally dreamed of having laser beams on your car, right? Come one, admit it, you’d love to be able to carve your way through rush hour traffic in a swarm of bright red laser blasts. It turns out that Audi have been dreaming about lasers too, although they might not be much use as an anti-traffic device.

The CES isn’t naturally associated with cars but that hasn’t stopped Audi from rocking up to show off some of their latest innovations. They have been the leader in distinctive car lighting for a while now, with their fancy LED clusters and painfully bright DRLs. Now they’re pushing the boundaries even further with the use of OLED displays and … laser beams!

You might be disappointed to learn that the laser beams are actually a clever safety device intended to help drivers following an Audi in bad weather. A laser in the rear cluster projects a triangular beam backwards and down towards the road. In foggy conditions this produces a triangular glow that allows following drivers to identify where the source of the light is coming from, so it’s easier for them to judge when to brake.

Audi may have been quick to adopt LED lighting but now that everybody else is doing it the German car maker needs to think of a new standout feature. Step forward OLED technology (short for Organic Light Emitting Diode). OLEDS are display panels that offer even more scopy for snazzy lighting than LED clusters, as well as reducing energy consumption even more.

Audi OLED Light Cluster

OLED light clusters set to become an Audi feature

Do you want animated turn signals? You’ve got them. How about fancy 3D effects within the light cluster? Yes, they’ll be able to design those as well.

It’s the OLED ‘swarm’ that’s most impressive. This uses a single OLED display that covers the full width of the car and can display anything the designers choose. In the demo model the OLED uses the tiny pixels of the display to create a constantly moving stream of light, like a swarm of angry glow bugs. They can change colour for turn signals, move from side to side to tell you which way the car is moving or change intensity for braking.

The OLED swarm may not be the most practical of ideas but it shows you what can be achieved with this technology. Whatever Audi decide to do for their production models, it’s going to give them the lead again in the ‘my car looks fancier than your car’ stakes.


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Author: Chris Auty

Voted the Breakthrough Blogger of 2013 by SEAT and the Guild of Motoring Writers , Chris has lived and breathed cars since he was old enough to say 'faster'. With a penchant for hot hatches and an allergy to public transport, he would much prefer to drive a bad car than never drive at all. Fortunately his family has learned to put up with this obsession and the internet has provided a channel for his ramblings.

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