Audi to test laser headlight at Le Mans race

January 23, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
During the Le Mans 24 Hours and other endurance races which are partially held in darkness, optimal vision plays a crucial role for the racing teams. Audi plans to equip its R18 race car to equip with headlights that combine the properties of a matrix LED headlight with those of laser light.

According to Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport, laser light provides a much more homogeneous and precise spread in front of the car. The carmaker did not provide more details as to the new lighting technology, but competitor BMW already equips its top-of-the line i8 sports car with laser headlights; other carmakers as well are already experimenting with such concepts.

Laser headlamps generate the light indirectly - the very bright but monochromatic and coherent laser beam needs to be converted to white light for two reasons: First, because for illumination purposes, a white light is required, and second, because the high intensity of the laser beam would dazzle oncoming drivers.

An important feature of laser technology is the size of the individual diodes. With a length of just ten microns (µm), laser diodes are one hundred times smaller even than the small, square-shaped cells used in conventional LED lighting, which have a side length of one millimeter. This opens up new possibilities when integrating the light source into the vehicle.

At Le Mans, Audi had equipped its racing vehicles with innovative lighting technology - in 2011 the company for the first time utilizes all-LED headlights, and in 2013 it used a matrix beam LED lamp.

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