Audi has been busy preparing for the upcoming Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, tweaking the racing model to utter perfection with the installation and addition of new technologies and systems.
The latest innovation Audi has been testing is its new laser light technology, which will be used alongside existing LED daytime running lights and LED headlights to help improve vision when out on the track. This is especially crucial when it comes to the night driving portion of the race.
It is hoped that this simple addition will give the Audi R-18 e-tron quattro race car a crucial advantage when it comes to the coveted event.
According to Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, member of the board of management for technical development of Audi AG, the manufacturer is a “trendsetter” when it comes to lighting technologies.
“The A8 has recently been available with matrix LED headlights – the most advanced lighting technology for production cars. We’re going to offer it in further models. Our latest development is laser light – even sharper, more powerful and more efficient. We’re equipping the new Le Mans race car with it and will be the first automobile manufacturer to introduce laser light in production cars,” he said.
It follows on from the previous year’s innovative inclusion of matrix LED headlights, made up of eight LED units per side. However, the addition of the laser light system helps to improve this even further.
Chris Reinke, head of Le Mans prototypes (LMP) at Audi Sport, said laser light provides a more “homogenous” and “precise” spread of visibility at the front of the racer.
“For us, this technology marks a milestone – it’s a reflection of the pioneering spirit of Audi Sport that, yet again, we’re assuming a pioneering role and, together with our colleagues in production development, deploying this new technology at such an early stage in racing. This collaboration is remarkable,” he added.
The laser light technology was unveiled for wider public viewing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, demonstrating its usage on a potential future production car – the Audi Sport quattro concept.
Audi seems confident therefore that laser light is not only the future of endurance racing technology, but also has applications for the consumer market.
However, its virtues will be most on display at Le Mans, with the experts suggesting that if it is in the right position, the lights will be able to illuminate a corner even before the driver turns in.
Marcel Fassler, two time winner of Le Mans and former World Endurance Champion, was amazed by the technology and said he had never seen such good light on a race car.
“It’s clearly even better than last year. I wouldn’t call this just one step forward, but three. The laser light is brighter, more concentrated and more precise. For example, you can see the apex of a corner much better with it. At night, this could be a crucial advantage for us,” he enthused.