Laser Lighting Headlights? Not Anytime Soon

To see what is hot, you often have to look no further than the latest car show. But this time, even the ‘concept cars’ are a bit ahead of themselves. Automakers have been teasing us with demonstrations of laser headlights, but don’t hold your breath, says a senior executive at Audi.

Wolfgang Huhn, Audi’s chief of lighting development, says LED headlights are so promising that there’s no pressure to replace them with a new technology such as lasers.

Because lasers can generate a pinpoint of light, engineers could shrink the optics in a headlight to create a very compact package. That would be cool from an engineering point of view. But lasers are not energy efficient and require a cooling system, says Huhn.

So when might lasers be ready for prime time?

“Maybe in 20 years,” he says. “Lasers are a nice high-tech device, but it’s all marketing.”

Huhn is focused on the Audi A8’s new high-beam headlamp, which debuted at the Frankfurt auto show this month. The high beam is generated by 25 LEDs.

30 Sep