To say that Audi have been leading the way with car lighting technology is no understatement. BMW may have started the ball rolling with their ‘angel eyes’ back in the 90s but Audi took the idea and really ran with it. It’s thanks to Audi that almost every new car is now lit up like a Christmas tree as rivals copy what makes the German cars so distinctive.
Audi have certainly had the advantage for a while but they’re not resting on their laurels. They’ve been tinkering with various new technologies, including the OLED displays that they previewed at the 2013 CES, but it looks like they could soon be arming their road cars with lasers.
The latest incarnation of the will-they-ever-build-it Audi Quattro concept is now boasting laser-powered lights in place of the usual full beam. LED bulbs produce the dipped beam but at the centre of the cluster lies a laser capable of projecting a beam of white light up to 500m ahead of the Quattro.
LEDs are small and compact but the powerful laser diodes are even smaller, measuring just a few microns in diameter. These diodes may be small but they pack a powerful punch, offering nearly twice the range and three times the brightness of LED high beam lights.
The Quattro concept may be the first road car to preview this technology but Audi will soon be putting it to the test on the race track. The 2014 R18 e-tron quattro will use laser headlights to illuminate its path in this year’s endurance racing calendar, including at the Le Mans 24hr.
There’s new tech in the instrument cluster too. Although there’s nothing new about a TFT display with multiple modes, Audi are pushing the idea further by switching to a higher resolution display and powering it with an nVidia processor. If you’re not a keen PC gamer you may not be familiar with the name but nVidia have been making cutting-edge graphics cards for many years now. The beauty of the new system is that it can generate proper 3D displays, allowing for more animation and information to be shown to the driver.
The Quattro may still be at the concept stage but it won’t be long before the technology it’s showcasing starts filtering through to Audi’s other road cars.