Audi calls the all-new R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 race car its most complex racer to date. The model has been completely redesigned around the 2014 season's new regulations, and it features more advanced technologies. One of those tech features, which Audi highlighted at the car's world premiere this week, is a set of laser headlights.
The laser headlights complement the primary LED headlights, creating a more homogenous light on the road ahead. The blue laser shoots light through a yellow phosphorus crystal lens. Audi will use them during the 24 Hours of Le Mans and other WEC races.
“By using this new lighting technology Audi is setting yet another milestone at Le Mans,” says Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Management Board for Technical Development of AUDI AG. "Laser light will also open up completely new possibilities for our production models in the future. Once more, motorsport at Audi accelerates a new technical development for our customers."
Like in the Audi, the i8's optional laser technology works in conjunction with standard LED lights. Used in the high beams, the lasers deliver brighter lighting that shines twice the distance of a conventional LED high beam, according to BMW. The automaker also says it uses less energy and has a light-emitting surface that's 100 times smaller. You can see a little more information about BMW's laser lights in the new video below.
The laser headlights are just one example of the suite of new technologies in the 2014-season R18 race car. Despite sharing the name and look of its predecessors, the R18 has undergone an intense redesign to meet new LMP1 regulations.
"A fundamental approach to motorsport is being abandoned," says Chris Reinke, head of LMP at Audi Sport. "Instead of power output, energy consumption will be subject to limitations – this is in line with the spirit of our times and opens up great technical freedoms to the engineers. In 2014, we’ll be seeing a wide variety of concepts on the grid at Le Mans."
As in the 2013 R18, the rear wheels are powered by a V6 TDI mid-engine, while the front axle is hooked to an e-tron quattro hybrid system. The car uses a flywheel system to store energy recovered during braking.
The new R18 also has a second hybrid system. Connected to the engine's turbocharger, this system converts thermal energy from the exhaust gas flow into electricity that's directed to the flywheel storage. The flywheel's reserve can be sent to either the front axle motor or to the electric turbocharger to enhance acceleration.
The 2014 R18 will make its racing debut at the 6-hour race at Silverstone (Great Britain) on April 20, 2014. Audi looks to build on a very successful 2013 season that included Le Mans and World Championship titles.