The updated Audi A8 and S8 range feature the German company’s latest in light technology, the Audi matrix LED headlights.
Audi says it’s the first electronically controlled glare free high-beam system in the world and that the technological advancement is comparable with the transition from typewriter to printer.
Similar in many ways to the headlight technology found in the all-new Mercedes-Ben S-Class, the Audi Matrix LED system is able to see vehicles in front and adjust its high-beam light in such a way that it illuminates the road without blinding other drivers.
The system can mask out up to eight different cars at one time, using 25 individually controlled segments per headlight allowing for 966,105,422 different variations in light distribution.
An ultra light sensitive camera detects light sources from oncoming vehicles and masks out the high beam light distribution around them in real time.
Unlike the Mercedes-Benz system which uses a series of tiny motors to control the LED lights, Audi has gone for an entirely software driven headlight system for longevity and the ability to block on up to eight different cars at once.
The most interesting feature of the matrix LED headlight system is its capability to tap into the car’s navigation system to better understand the road. For example, the system will auto engage highbeam when the Audi A8 leaves suburban areas and enters a country road (and vice versa).
It will, based on navigation data, look into the corner the A8 is driving towards long before the driver turns the steering wheel, allowing for better illumination of the oncoming path.
Additional features include a spotlight system for pedestrians and animals and dynamic indicator lights. The spotlight feature uses infrared camera’s to detect and then shine a light on any animals or pedestrians located dangerously close to or on the road. This not only warns the pedestrian but also highlights their location for the driver.
Audi says its emphasis on light technology is strongly linked to safety. According to the company, 96 percent of all traffic related information is taken in visually and while only 25 percent of car accidents happen at night, they account for 50 percent of fatalities, making the human eye a bottleneck to safety at nighttime.
The Audi Matrix LED headlight system is an ‘extreme addition’ to safety, according to Audi’s head of lighting functions, Jurgen Wilhelmy.
Quizzed by CarAdvice as to why Audi has gone for a software driven headlight system over a motorized system like Mercedes-Benz, Wilhemly said “first of all [it’s the] lifetime, LED lights have about 20,000 hours, motor doesn’t have this lifetime. For us we also had a mechanical system in the past and believe this is the next big invention in automotive lighting. It’s an idea from Audi to use electronic and software and don’t use a motor.”
As with all technologies released in top-end vehicles such as the Audi A8, the Audi Matrix LED system will no doubt soon find its way down the range, bringing advanced headlight technology to everyday cars in the coming years.