CES 2013: Audi Shows Self-Adjusting Headlights and Very Illegal Laser Tail Lights

By Jacob Brown | January 11, 2013
Audi has a tendency to go a little over the top at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This year proved to be no exception, with the automaker having a large display with new technologies like a 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system in a diesel Q7 prototype, its 24 Hours of LeMans-winning R18 e-tron quattro diesel-powered hybrid racecar.
But Audi's most inventive technologies were perhaps its most out of sight: headlights and tail lights. Audi's display is a luminescent white, almost blindingly bright. But moving through a door presents showgoers with a nearly pitch-black room that's just as hard on the eyes in terms of visual adjustment.
In the room, Audi showed a new sequential tail light turn signal from the 2013 Audi R8. Moving much like that of a Ford Mustang's, the amber strip of light zips from the inside of the light housing unit to its outside, indicating the car's intended direction. It's available in the newly refreshed car, but not in the U.S. Federal regulations keep a standard blinking turn signal lamp in the North American version.
Next up was a laser tail light with a single, bright diode broadcasting its presence. Brighter and more efficient than the LED tail lights that have become all the rage in luxury cars these days, Audi's tail light unit showed what automakers could do with the technology. Alas, that, too, is also kaputt for the U.S. Moreover, though, it's not legal anywhere in the world. Audi's still developing laser lighting technology, however, in hopes of it seeing the light of day eventually.
Lastly, Audi presented a feasible headlight design, with its self-adjusting headlights using sensors to see oncoming traffic and move the beam in one of three preset directions to keep it from blinding other drivers. Audi gave showgoers small flashlights to shine into the headlight, forcing its sensors to change the headlight's direction. Audi already has self-adjusting headlights that keep light on the road--even in corners. We can't help but to think that, while the others are unfeasible, the refocusing headlights might just be the best new tech to come from Audi that will inevitably make it into production.