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LED it be

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Johannes Köbler

The Future of Light Starts Now

Audi is starting a whole new chapter in automotive light technology – the Matrix LED headlamps will make their debut toward the end of the year. A large number of individual, computer-controlled LEDs generate a highly precise light.


Marking light – individual LEDs emit three short and carefully directed flashes at pedestrians on the road, delivering clear warning.

Audi is starting a whole new chapter in auto­­­motive lighting technology. The Audi Matrix LED headlamps will make their debut in the revised A8, to be launched at the end of 2013. They supply a light that ensures consistently excellent illumination without dazzling other road users. The LED high beam is separated into a large number of small, individual diodes. A control unit either dims them or switches them on and off individually in fractions of a second in accordance with the situation.

Each headlamp on the Audi A8 contains 25 high-beam LEDs, divided into groups of five that each share a common reflector. When the driver sets the light switch to “automatic” and activates high beam, the system kicks in at 30 km/h in town and at 60 km/h out of town. As soon as the camera in the A8 detects other vehicles, the Audi Matrix LED headlamps mask out the high beam in the necessary parts of the headlamp. The system is extremely precise – oncoming vehicles and those driving in front are omitted, while all areas between and alongside them remain illuminated by high beam.

Audi is the leading brand in automotive lighting technology. The brand has been consistently and decisively driving progress for years.

1994 Second-generation xenon headlamps in the Audi A8
2003 adaptive light in the Audi A8
2004 LED daytime running lights in the Audi A8 W12
2008 Full-LED headlamps in the Audi R8
2010 Networking of the headlamps with the navigation data in the Audi A8
2011 Visually homogenous LED rear lights in the Audi A6
2012 Dynamic indicators in the Audi R8
2013 Full-LED headlamps for the compact class
2013 EU confirms Audi as the first manufacturer of LED technology as an eco innovation

Light pockets – the Matrix LED headlamps mask out oncoming traffic and vehicles driving in front, while illuminating the space between them.


Race use – the Audi R18 e-tron quattro used a variant of the Matrix LED technology that was specially developed for nighttime at Le Mans.

Once the oncoming traffic has passed, the high beam returns the previously masked sections to full power. What the driver experiences is a bright, homogenous high beam – significantly better than that of the mechanical masking systems used by competitors. The Audi Matrix LED headlamps emit a light that has a highly distinctive, crystal-like glow. They are also extremely attractive and distinctive by day, thanks in part to a new look for the daytime running lights.

Matrix LED technology has a great deal of fascinating potential – in the size and design of the headlamps, the number of individual LEDs, in their arrangement and in their functions. The new Audi A8 is equipped with the so-called marking light, which is coupled to the optional Night View Assist with pedestrian detection. When it detects a person in the critical area in front of the car, indi­vidual LEDs direct a rapid series of three short flashes at him/her – this makes the pedestrian stand out clearly against the background and provides a warning for both the individual and the driver.

Furthermore, the LEDs in the Audi Matrix LED headlamps also take on the cornering light function by adjusting the focal point of the light using targeted brightening and dimming in the direction of the bend. By using the predictive route data provided by the MMI Navigation plus, this occurs just prior to steering wheel turn-in. The mechanical swiveling of previous systems has now been replaced by electronic dimming. A further function in the updated Audi A8 is the dynamic indicators. Blocks of LEDs in the indicator blink at an interval of 150 milliseconds in the direction that the driver wants to turn.

The lighting innovations from Audi mean more safety, greater efficiency and attractive design. They benefit a large number of customers, with LED headlamps offered as of the compact A3 model range. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro race car also used the new technology in achieving its second victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. On the straights, its LED light illuminated more than 800 meters ahead, while providing intelligent cornering light through the bends.

Audi will continue progressively to extend its lead in this field of technology. The vehicle light of tomorrow will react even more precisely to its environmental conditions and communicate with them in a variety of ways. It will be controlled fully electronic­ally and be even more attractive through new, dynamic functions.