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Audi opens lab for advanced lighting designs

Posted: 18 Feb 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LAC  LED  OLED  lighting assistance 

Carmaker Audi launched the new Lighting Assistance Centre (LAC) at its headquarters in Ingolstadt. LAC is a development and test centre for advanced lighting designs, which include the functions of the high-beam and camera-based lighting assistance systems. It also boasts of a 120m driveable light tunnel.

Core element of the lighting competence centre is the biggest lighting tunnel for vehicles in Europe. The Audi engineers there cooperate closely with the designers so that new ideas can be put onto the road faster. Their motorsport colleagues also often deliver valuable stimulus from the world's toughest test bench: the racetrack.

With the double function of light as an aesthetic brand message and as an element of safety and comfort, the engineers are experimenting with a range of future technologies from LED to OLED, laser and light guides. One of the next steps for the carmaker will be matrix laser headlights.

Design model

Design model with OLEDs

Audi's approach is somewhat different from other next-gen lighting designs from carmakers like BMW and Daimler: A chip fitted with hundreds of thousands of individually controlled micro-mirrors (much like the projectors used to visualise Powerpoint presentations) divides the laser beam into tiny pixels. Applied to exterior lighting of a car, this makes it possible to adapt the lighting pattern to any driving situation—or even to project graphical information onto the road.

Audi Matrix OLED

Audi Matrix OLED. Apparently not a near-series implementation.

Innovation also in the taillight: Audi plans to enhance lighting functions to become a communications medium. For example, a laser taillight could assume the shape of a warning triangle in fog or rain conditions, effectively keeping trailing vehicles at a safe distance; the company sketched its vision of the future.

Fancy interiors

An Innovative idea for the fancy interiors of the future.

In addition, OLEDs not only at the rear but also at the flanks could enable novel functions that indicate to other traffic participants the intentions of the driver in front of them. An example that Audi already demonstrated at another opportunity is lights that flow quickly forward, augmenting the brake light at the back of the car.

Carmaker experiments

The carmaker experiments with innovative materials—even though a striking application is not yet in sight, it might be one of the lighting ideas of the future.

At the opportunity of the LAC opening, the company provided insights into studies and developments for future lighting designs.

Construction area light

The construction area light (under development) illuminates the edges of the lane and sketches "rails" for the driver to follow.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
  EE Times Europe

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