Audi invents always on full-beam lights that don't blind oncoming drivers

Audi has demoed the latest technology in smart headlights at CES 2013, showing-off LED lights that can cleverly avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.

Introducing the next-generation Matrix LED headlight, Audi predicted a win-win future – one in which the Audi driver can drive at night with the equivalent of full beam on all the time, without the oncoming driver being dazzled.

It works by using the latest LED lamp array technology and combines it with the front-facing camera, already used in Audis with high-beam assist. As the Audi approaches a car coming in the opposite direction at night, the camera sees the light and completely extinguishes a section of the Audi’s beam. 

For our hands-on, Audi gave us a torch, asked us to shine it at its demo unit lamp and then walk across the back wall of the room. Sure enough, as you shine the torch at the lamp, the section of the light beam firing out at you completely cuts out, and then as you walk across the room, it follows you – you’re not blinded or dazzled at all. 

As with much of the car tech here at CES, Audi’s excited about the idea because it thinks it’s going to increase safety. Around 60 per cent of motor accidents happen at night, when nighttime accounts for only 20 per cent of all traffic volume. So for the Audi driver, being able to see more of the road, more of the time has got to be a good thing. And we all know how irritating (and blinding) it is when an oncoming driver doesn’t dip the headlights, so making the whole idea a thing of the past has got to be good.

And this isn’t pie in the sky either. Audi engineers told us this technology would launch on a production car in Europe in late-2013 (bet on it being the TT or a facelifted A8).

Just don’t get your hopes up if you’re on the Vegas side of the pond. Audi (along with Ford, GM and others) told us they were off to Washington on Monday to lobby the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, because US regulation means this technology is currently illegal in North America.



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