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Audi R8 supercar to get laser high-beams

Look ahead: Audi’s laser high-beam headlights have twice the range of an LED system, potentially making it easier to spot distant objects on vast Australian roads.

Australia to get a small number of Audi R8s with hi-po laser high-beam headlights

12 May 2014

AUDI AG will pip German nemesis BMW to the post as the first car-maker to offer headlights with a laser high-beam on a production vehicle – one, we should mention, that will come to Australia.

Fittingly, the cutting-edge units – apparently each cone of light has double the range of a top-of-the-line LED – will premiere on a limited edition version of the company’s R8 supercar flagship called the LMX.

A small number of LMX versions are to be produced this year, and can be ordered now ahead of delivery commencing from around July.

The timing means Audi will edge out BMW, which plans to release laser headlights on its a special version of its electrified i8 flagship by the end of this year.

Audi says the combination LED and laser headlights will get a workout at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 14 and 15 on its R8 e-tron quattro racecar.

The Ingolstadt marque has regularly used its R8 flagship to premiere new lighting technologies: in 2008 it was the first car to offer all-LED headlights, and in 2012 it revealed dynamic turning indicators.

Audi AG board member for technical development Ulrich Hackenberg told GoAuto in Geneva this year that the company would use the next-generation R8 due in 2015 to premiere various technologies over its life-cycle.

The new laser high-beams have twice the range of LED units, according to Audi. Each module uses four laser diodes with a diameter of 300 micrometres, which generate a blue laser beam with a wavelength of 450 nanometres, A phosphor converter transforms this energy into a roadworthy white light with a colour temperature of 5500 Kelvin, which Audi claims shows up contrast effectively and thereby reduces fatigue.

A camera-based sensor system detects oncoming cars and re-directs the light beams around it.

A small number of LMX R8s will be available in Australia later this year.

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