Audi shows the future of digital lighting systems

Audi shows the future of digital lighting systems

Lighting technology becomes more and more important and creates a wider range of possibilities and perspectivesfrom added safety for the driver, to external communication and individualisation. LThe systematic digitization of the vehicle’s headlights is making all this possible, something that is particularly visible in the Audi A8.the first Audi model with fully digitized lighting, in which digital Matrix LED headlights and digital OLED taillights take the driving experience to a whole new level. The vehicle can be further individualized thanks to its digital OLED taillights. In addition, the digital Matrix LED headlights include three new features: advanced traffic information, a lane light with direction indicators on motorways, and an orientation light on secondary roads.

All drivers have ever encountered a situation of night driving on a motorway with low lighting, they point out from the German brand. In this case, the lane light is extremely useful. It illuminates the lane itself, helping the driver to concentrate on everything related to handling the vehicle. Position signaling integrated into the orientation light – a series of darkened arrows in what can be called a “light carpet”, also known as lane lighting – predictively indicates the vehicle’s position between road markings , encouraging safe driving in the center of the lane. This system helps, for example, when passing through narrow areas at points where works are being carried out. In order to optimally focus the driver’s attention on the road, the lighting is deliberately limited to the lane being driven, and not to those under construction. Now that the headlight has been digitized, a novelty is that this orientation light is also available independently of the lane light on secondary roads. This is a new feature now made possible by digital light technology.

Returning to the motorway: during changes of position on the road, the lane light brightly illuminates the boundary lines between the different lanes, while the orientation light indicates the exact position of the car to give maximum support to the driver. That’s where the second new feature comes in: lane light direction indicators. With the turn signals activated, the digital Matrix LED headlights create a dynamic zone of flashing on the corresponding side of the lane light, reiterating and intensifying the turn signal signal. In this way, clear and additional information about the intention to change lanes is transmitted to the traffic in the immediate vicinity. This is one of the ways Audi makes driving safer, especially in heavy traffic.

When driving with low beams on winding roads, in the city or on the motorway, or when driving with high beams, the greater precision provided by the digitization of the headlights makes driving even safer for other users, since allows much more accurate masking of oncoming traffic and cars ahead.

Advanced traffic information

In addition to the display in the digital instrumentation, the headlights project a warning indicator in front of the car directly onto the road for about three seconds, consisting of a triangle with an exclamation mark inside. This allows the driver to keep their attention on the road, and to react as quickly as possible in the event of an approaching traffic incident caused by an accident or breakdown.

Behind the digitization of the Matrix LED headlights there is a new technology, known as DMD, previously used in video projectors. DMD stands for Digital Micromirror Device. Its main component is a small chip with about 1.3 million micromirrors, whose edges measure just a few thousandths of a millimeter. Using electrostatic fields, each can be tilted up to 5,000 times per second.. Depending on the configuration, the LED light beam is directed to the road through the corresponding lenses, or is absorbed to dim it

Digital OLED taillights

Audi introduced digital OLED technology in the Audi Q5. For the first time, digitization made it possible to change the light signature of the taillights, a possibility based on the fundamental properties of OLEDs.: high contrast, segmentation capacity, high degree of light homogeneity and the smallest possible spaces between segments. Audi remains the only car manufacturer to offer this technology, which is part of the standard equipment in the A8.

Audi lighting design conceptualizes a specific selection of digital OLED taillight signatures for each Audi model. Only digitization makes it possible to customize the design of the lights, thanks to the system allowing each rear light panel and the OLED segment it contains to be individually controlled. Thus, Drivers can apply their personal preferences via the MMI, varying the appearance of the rear lights at the touch of a button. For the first time in the new Audi A8 there are three selectable tail light signatures; customers opting for an Audi S8 can choose an additional fourth signature.

The digital OLED taillights use a proximity indication feature to draw the attention of other road users. When a car approaches a stationary Audi, the parking sensors take note of the movement of the approaching vehicle and activate all remaining OLED segments so that the additional luminosity and the greater surface area make your presence as noticeable as possible. As the Audi drives away, the digital OLED taillights revert to the selected light signature. This extra measure of safety even applies to people on bicycles or scooters: the sensors recognize them too.

One question that often comes up about digital OLED taillight technology is its durability. Audi digital OLEDs are designed to meet the high demands placed on their use in a vehicle. A special development of materials prevents degeneration due to the influence of temperature and encapsulation technology, preventing OLED elements from coming into contact with moisture. This means that they meet the durability profile and meet the same demands as conventional inorganic LEDs used in cars. Thanks to this, digital OLEDs have a significantly longer lifespan than traditional OLED screens, and with a much higher light density, to meet the challenges of automotive exterior lighting.

light mapping

Another technology that offers more security and communication is the Mapping light which is integrated into the roof spoiler: a functional enlargement of the third brake light projects the “quattro” logo at the top of the rear window. Not only does this create completely new design possibilities for communication, but the enlargement of the brake light area also improves the perception of this function in traffic. The projection light reflection from the spoiler is directed towards the rear, making it only visible to road users behind the car; the driver does not perceive this added light effect.

This technology will be available in the Chinese market this summer in a combustion engine SUV designed specifically for China. Audi wants to extend the use of this technology to all markets to offer more personalization options in the future. However, for legal reasons it will not be possible to use projections created by the users themselves.

Digital projections from the turn signals

In the future, Audi wants to intensify the communication between the vehicle and its surroundings through digital projections on the ground. A first approximation of this functionality is the projections from the indicators. Three symbols projected onto the road at the front and rear of the vehicle warn cyclists, for example, of a lane change; In addition, they warn pedestrians that the vehicle is going to make a turn. A function that offers simple and clear communication and greater security.

This interactivity is intended to pave the way for wider projections in the area around the car, including, for example, warnings projected onto the road before a door is opened. Audi is working to gradually expand the use of this ambient lighting. In the process, the brand with the four rings is also setting the stage that is fit for purpose in terms of functionality in order to ultimately create the optimal added value and not just present everything that is currently possible, both in terms of referred to security as personalization. The perspective of the latter is part of Audi’s vision of the future with customizable ground projections through digitization. In this sense, it is conceivable that there will be information and signatures related to the driver, although this should not compromise privacy.


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