January 4, 2009 The order books have opened for the 196mph Audi R8 making it the first car in the world with all-LED (light emitting diode) headlamps, daytime running lights and turn indicators. LEDs are the headlight of the future due to their power, homogenous light distribution and the agreeable, daylight-esque colour and Audi can rightfully boast a technological edge with headlights four times more energy efficient than halogen headlights in addition to having a practically indefinite service life. LEDs can be made more or less bright electronically and hence able to be precisely adapted to conditions. In the future, headlights will react to variables such as weather conditions, speed and the distance between vehicles. Audi already has a pre-production headlight which offers exceptional visibility at night without irritating oncoming drivers, by measuring the distance of the approaching vehicle and adapting the shape of the beam continuously.
The LED headlamp of the Audi R8 is the first representative of a completely new generation of headlamps using only light emitting diodes which in itself reduces CO2 emissions. An interior light package including LED footwell lighting, light and rain sensors and LED engine compartment lighting also comes as standard.
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Dr. Wolfgang Huhn, Head of the Light and Visibility Department at Audi, explains: “A lot of people initially viewed this development as a mere marketing gimmick. Yet everyone who has seen these lights in action is not only astonished by the excellent output but also thrilled with the homogenous distribution of light and the agreeable, daylight-esque colour of the light.”
Audi’s LED initiative first surfaced at the 2003 North American International Auto Show when it first presented the Pikes Peak quattro concept study with the world’s first fog lights equipped with high-performance light-emitting diodes.
Integrated into the broad bumper as striking strips of light, the fog lights were a sensation not merely in a technical sense. The strip-shaped lights were also aesthetically pleasing and very popular with the public.
The 12-cylinder Audi A8 went into series production soon afterwards as the world’s first vehicle with LED daytime running lights. High-performance light-emitting diodes as a light source for headlights had never previously been seen. Huhn added: “Audi blazed trails with LED technology. And even though we’re years ahead of our direct competitors, this field continues to bear tremendous potential for us. Our research counts on the ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ typical at Audi and no one can imagine our designs without it.”
Lumens per watt are the “horsepower” of light. For the sake of comparison, an ordinary household light bulb generates about 20-25 lumens per watt. A modern passenger vehicle’s xenon headlights, on the other hand, are very energy-efficient and create some 80 lumens per watt.
The first LED headlights in the Pikes Peak concept generated 18 lumens while the next generation of white high-performance LEDs hit the market this year with a whopping 100 lumens per watt – surpassing the efficiency of xenon lights for the first time.
“Digital light” can be made more or less bright electronically and precisely adapted to a driver’s needs. Audi developers are convinced that future generations of headlights will react to weather conditions, a vehicle’s speed, the distance between vehicles, and potentially dangerous objects.
Huhn concluded: “We’re striving to create intelligent headlights and taillights which think and anticipate in the interest of enhancing a driver’s safety and comfort. For example, there are already high-beam headlights in pre-series development which will allow drivers to navigate roads at night without temporarily blinding oncoming drivers. This is made possible by a variable distribution of light: An electronic system continuously calculates the distance to any approaching vehicles to ensure that the road ahead is ideally illuminated at all times – without irritating oncoming drivers.”