Audi will be debuting their new Matrix LED headlights on the new A8, which will be unveiled at the end of 2013. The new automotive lighting innovation was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year as a future technology for Audi vehicles. The German automaker has decided to make the future nearer as it debuts with their next-generation A8 flagship sedan.
The system works by splitting up the LED high-beam headlights into numerous individual, small diodes working in conjunction with lenses or reflectors connected in series. Managed by a responsive control unit, they are activated and deactivated or dimmed individually according to the situation. This means they always supply high-precision illumination and achieve the maximum possible light yield without needing a pivoting mechanism.
In the new Audi A8, each headlight comprises 25 high-beam light-emitting diodes, arranged in groups of five per reflector. When the light switch is set to “automatic” and the high-beam headlights are on, the system is activated from 30 km/h on highways and from 60 km/h on city streets.
As soon the camera in the A8 detects oncoming vehicles, the Audi Matrix LED headlights dip the relevant sections of the high-beam headlights. The system operates with such precision that it blanks out light that would shine directly onto oncoming and preceding vehicles, but continues to cast the high beams with full power on all other zones between and beside them. The closer an approaching vehicle gets, the more LEDs are deactivated or dimmed. When there is no more oncoming traffic, the high-beam headlights then resume full power, including the sections that had previously been off. The light that the driver sees is always bright, similar but more effective than mechanical dipping systems used by other cars.
One of its safety functions in the Audi A8 involves providing what are known as marker lights: These team up with the optional night vision assistant to mark detected pedestrians. When it detects a person in the critical range in front of the car, individual LEDs flash at them rapidly three times in succession, picking out the pedestrian clearly from their surroundings and alerting both the pedestrian and the driver.
The light-emitting diodes of the Audi Matrix LED headlights also perform the cornering light function; they displace the emphasis of the beam in the direction of the bend. By calling on predictive route data supplied by the MMI navigation plus, they do so shortly before the steering needs to be turned. Another function in the new Audi A8 is the turn signal with dynamic display: The LEDs in the turn signals flash in blocks at 150 millisecond intervals in the direction that the driver intends to turn.
Audi has been leading the way in automotive lighting technology since it debuted second-generation xenon headlights in the Audi A8 in 1994, and the brand has repeatedly done so over the years with more innovations. Introductions such as the LED daytime running lights in 2004 in the A8 W12, full-LED headlights in the R8 in 2008, and solid LED rear lights design in the A6 are technologies that truly changed the way vehicles are lit.
The EU validated Audi’s LED technology as an eco-innovation this year, they are the first automaker to be certified for this technology. Audi intends to next-generation LED lighting with all-electronic control and be even more attractive thanks to new dynamic functions.