Audi drives LED headlight to new dimensions

January 23, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
After having introduced already rather sophisticated LED-based lighting systems in its serial production vehicles, carmaker Audi announces to equip its vehicles with a smart LED matrix that adds even more flexibility. With the new lighting system, the company intends to improve driving safety - and provide its cars with an unmistakable appearance.

The LED matrix headlight, which will be rolled out later this year, subdivides the LED high-beam light into numerous individual segments. The individual LEDs, working in tandem with lenses or reflectors in front of them, always deliver appropriate illumination without requiring a swivelling mechanism. The LEDs are instead separately activated, deactivated or dimmed according to the situation.

The matrix LED headlights get their control information from a camera, the navigation system and other sensors. When the camera detects other vehicles, this causes the high-beam light, which is subdivided into multiple sectors, to be blocked in a certain subarea. In complex situations, the headlights can also illuminate the spaces between several vehicles.

Based on navigation data, the high beam light predictively swivels into the curve even before the driver begins to turn the steering wheel. Essentially, the high beam light guides the driver along the road. This functionality is also reflected in the special headlight design.

Already in its existing models, Audi makes generous use of LEDs and control electronics. For instance, the taillights are not simple light bulbs that are switched on and off. Instead, bands of 30 LEDs at each side allow the designers to transport certain messages in the way they are flashing. This "dynamized display" as Audi calls it, sends clearer signals to the environment than conventional turn signals. Today, the vehicle behind the car in traffic cannot determine whether a flashing light is a hazard light or a turn signal when the view of the vehicle ahead is partially blocked. Audi's technology makes the turn indicators smarter. When operated as turn signal flashers, their light always runs towards the side in the direction the driver wishes to turn.

In the new A3 which has been introduced recently, nine high-performance LED chips in two free-form reflectors generate the low-beam light, while the high beam uses ten high-performance LEDs to emit light through an aluminum trim aperture. The