It is the toughest race in the world. It is one of the greatest challenges in motor sport. In the Le Mans 24-hour race, both driver and technology must prove themselves under extreme conditions. This year too, Audi is testing one of its technologies in the toughest test lab: the innovative laser light makes its debut on the R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 race car.
“Good night vision is essential”
One day and one night – in the Le Mans 24-hour race, it’s not only the drivers who have to prove their staying power – but the technology too. Every circuit is 13.629 kilometres long. At night in particular, optimum road illumination is vital. Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport, explains: “Good night vision is essential. The Matrix LED headlights have already given our drivers a major advantage at Le Mans. This will be even greater when combined with laser light as we can provide even better illumination of the track. This technology has great potential for the future.”
The laser diodes emit a monochromatic and coherent light, with a wavelength of 450 nm. Two-time Le Mans winner Marcel Fässler enthuses: “I wouldn’t say it was one step forward – more like three. The laser light is brighter, more homogeneous and at the same time more precise.” This makes it an ideal complement to the LED headlights, which offer a cornering light function and provide optimum illumination of the apex of a bend.
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Powerful light source
With a diameter of only 0.3 millimetres the laser diodes come very close to the ideal of a high-power, point light source. The combination of the laser high beam with Matrix LED technology improves visibility and consequently safety standards significantly. The road is illuminated much more homogeneously. Broad illumination of dipped headlights, however, can be achieved much more efficiently with current state-of-the-art high-performance LEDs.
Audi presented the laser light high beam for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas in the Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept show car. Now it is set to undergo an endurance test at Le Mans. “Laser light will open up entirely new possibilities for our future production models. Once more, motorsport at Audi is accelerating a new technical development for our customers,” says Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at AUDI AG.
The Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept show car with laser light high beam