Audi continues to push the boundaries in car lighting design through use of LED and OLED technology
9th January , 2013

Audi continues to push the boundaries in car lighting design through use of LED and OLED technology

Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs are steadily becoming an integral part of vehicle lighting design as they give more light for less power and do not generate wasted energy in the form of heat. LEDs are already widely used in tail-lights, indicator turning lights as well as DRLs (Daylight Running Lights) by several leading car manufacturers. Audi is a pioneer in bringing LED technology to car lighting design and actually introduced LED Headlights (including main beam) for the R8 as far back as 2008. Several other leading car brands such as Mercedes Benz and BMW are also in the process of introducing LED Headlights in their cars.  On the current A8 luxury saloon model, ten LED modules make up the low beam in a wing-shaped pattern, while an underlying string of 22 white and 22 yellow LEDs constitute the daytime running lights and turn signals. The white LEDs use a colour temperature of 5500K to match daylight and enhance contrast of roadway objects. LED headlights are also offered on the current A6 model and more recently they are options on the smaller A4 and A3 models.

Why is the pursuit LED technology for vehicle lighting inevitable for the automotive industry?  LEDs generate more light than heat and take up less space and are highly reliable with long lifetime. LEDs will not be a drain on the battery and the we will no longer see cars on the roads with bulbs blown – improving safety. Also, LEDs present the key benefit of flexibility in design as they can be arranged into various shapes as required by car designers and engineers—especially important to a style-leading brand such as Audi.

Current state-of-the-art LED luminaire designs incorporates intelligent features such as a high-beam assistant that automatically detects the headlights of oncoming traffic and the rear lights of other road users and responds by varying the position and width of the LED headlights accordingly.

Audi claims that in the first year of sales, cars equipped with LED headlights accounted for a reduction of 25,000 tons of COemissions. LED headlights are four times as efficient as halogen lamps and they require the vehicle’s alternator to replenish less energy to achieve a considerable saving in fuel.

Audi continues to push the boundaries in its radical approach to its lighting design though the use of OLEDs (Organic LEDs) as showcased at the 2013 CES in Las Vegas. Rather than emitting light by sending an electric charge through a crystal like a normal LED light, OLEDs use an organic material – to illuminate a surface. Compared to traditional light bulbs, LEDs are small and OLEDs continue that trend by offering lighting that is only millimeters in thickness. OLEDs move away from point source lighting to light from flat surfaces – offering substantial freedom to be creative.

One intriguing application presented by Audi at this year’s CES is something it calls the “swarm.” Audi’s engineers transformed the rear of a car into a large continuous light surface to let light flow across the car’s tail like a swarm of bees or school of fish. For example, the light could shift to the right when the driver activates the turn signal.

“Laser tail lights” are another feature the brand brought this year. Cars equipped with the technology would project a line on the ground behind the car to prompt following cars to maintain a safe distance.

Enabled by the advancements in LED and OLED, Audi continues to lead the way in developing the lighting technologies of tomorrow. Three central themes are emerging: the lighting on tomorrow’s Audi models will react even more intensively to environmental conditions, it will communicate in various ways with its surroundings and in this way will increase active safety still further. The light of the future will be controlled fully electronically and become an even more compelling proposition thanks to new dynamic functions.

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