As winter and the short daylight hours slowly release their grip on the UK, Audi drivers may well be amongst the most satisfied drivers out there.
Audi has been leading the way in automotive lighting technologies for several years now, with vision at night being crucial to safety. The development of these systems is still continuing and advanced light systems are now available on a wider range of Audi vehicles than ever before.
Lighting based on light emitting diodes (LEDs) is already available on all Audi models, from LED daytime running lights (DRLs) to LED headlights or the latest intelligent Matrix LED models.
All S line versions in the Audi range are fitted with at least LED DRLs as standard alongside Xenon plus headlights, while S line versions of the Audi A4, A6, A7, Q7 and TT are fitted with all-LED headlights and LED rear lights as standard.
The Matrix LED units operate entirely electronically with no mechanical parts. Individual LEDs can be lit or dimmed on demand, providing maximum illumination for the driver without dazzling traffic around them. With this selective lighting they can also function as cornering lights, diverting the focal point in the turning direction. They can, in conjunction with the navigation system, even do this before you turn by predicting corners!
Matrix LEDs are available on the A4, A6, A7 Sportback, Q7 and TT, and are standard fit on the A8 Sport, Edition 21 and W12 models. All vehicles with Matrix LED headlights also gain dynamic sweeping indicators front and rear, which are more effective at signalling intent to turn.
More advanced still is the laser headlighting system, as fitted to the Audi R8. These laser driving lights complement the Matrix LEDs at speeds above 37mph to provide a compact and pure white beam of light at a distance of up to 600 metres.
Audi still has the future in mind though. Further development includes laser foglights, Matrix laser lights and organic LED (OLED) 'swarm' technology.
Matrix laser headlights use a technology similar to many video projectors and can be used to target light in amazingly specific ways. The lights could show the driver the way through roadworks or project graphics onto the road in conjuction with the navigation system. It could even lay down a zebra crossing pattern to show pedestrians unequivocally that it is safe for them to cross!
Laser rear foglights could similarly improve road safety in suboptimal weather conditions. They could indicate safe following distance, by projecting diverging red lines on the road behind, or even create a giant warning triangle.
OLEDs could remove the need for discrete lights altogether. With OLED coatings applied to the car's sheet metal, the car's shell could become its own light source and convey information about the speed, direction and intended direction directly to other motorists with guided light patterns.