Audi once again pushes the envelope with headlights that are frickin lasers

Audi is one of the most technologically advanced car manufacturers. In fact, the slogan of the entire company, “Vorsprung Durch Technik”, is focused on this. The term translates as “Progress through technology”. Audi has pioneered countless technological advances and improvements, from safety systems to vehicle construction methods. But god, does he love headlights. Audi has easy was the most influential headlight manufacturer (strange bend, I know) and now it’s back with a set of freaking laser headlights.

I like that. Audi isn’t even pretending anymore, it just wants to put supervillain technology in the hands of all its drivers. And these headlights are top notch, so you shouldn’t be mad. Not only can the beams from the multiple lasers create the kind of focused light that prevents other drivers from being blinded, but they’re also apparently pretty good at playing board games.

Check out this video that Audi released a while back showing off the concept:

The design of the light of the future | Audi concept car headlights

If you’re not allowed to watch because you’re at work (naive!), here’s a quick rundown: Audi’s Digital Matrix Light Array concept can project an interactive game onto a blank wall for a child to play against. It’s a football/soccer goalie and the whole system can track which shots go into the goal and which attempts the designed goalie can “stop”. It’s incredibly cool technology and could make babysitting easier in the future.

While the laser headlights on the E-Tron Sportback don’t offer that kind of fun and games (at least not yet), they do allow for some pretty awesome features. The lights themselves work by breaking down light streams into tiny pixels, which according to Audi leads to “high-resolution” lighting. Inside each array are small chips containing micromirrors each just a few hundredths of a millimeter across. The arrays can tilt each micromirror up to 5,000 times per second through electrostatic fields. Depending on the setting, the LED light is either directed through the lens onto the road or absorbed to mask areas of the light beam.

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The lights can generate dynamic departure and return home animations that appear as projections on the wall or floor. Welcome future friend! Heads-up screens are for the naive, the real magic is in the heads-up roads! It also enables a system that illuminates your lane brightly and dynamically adjusts when you change lanes. Finally, (non-lethal) lasers can draw attention to any pedestrians detected by the system. In theory, all an aspiring supervillain would have to do is go out of his way to start frying his enemies.

Image used with permission of the copyright holder

It’s easy to dismiss this as concept technology, but it’s coming to the new E-Tron Sportback next year. Audi also has a pretty good track record of bringing its concept technologies to the real world within a few years. You see, this isn’t the first time Audi has wowed us with its strange headlight fetish.

The company was one of the first to introduce LED lights that killed the bulb entirely, then in 2016 the company introduced the world to OLED lights on the TT RS. While other automakers cling to 120-year-old headlight technology, Audi has already gone through multiple new forms of lighting. I won’t be surprised if they create and paint miniature stars in their 2025 models.

So for all future supervillains and babysitters, wait a few more years and you too might have a car with interactive laser lights. What a wonderful world we live in…

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