New Audi R18 e-tron quattro racer shoots laser lights


December 20, 2013

The R18 has been completely redesigned to meet new regulations

The R18 has been completely redesigned to meet new regulations

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Audi calls the all-new R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 race car its most complex racer to date. The model has been completely redesigned around the 2014 season's new regulations, and it features more advanced technologies. One of those tech features, which Audi highlighted at the car's world premiere this week, is a set of laser headlights.

The laser headlights complement the primary LED headlights, creating a more homogenous light on the road ahead. The blue laser shoots light through a yellow phosphorus crystal lens. Audi will use them during the 24 Hours of Le Mans and other WEC races.

“By using this new lighting technology Audi is setting yet another milestone at Le Mans,” says Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Management Board for Technical Development of AUDI AG. "Laser light will also open up completely new possibilities for our production models in the future. Once more, motorsport at Audi accelerates a new technical development for our customers."

If Audi does indeed bring laser headlights to its production line, it won't be the first automaker to do so. Down in Munich, at BMW, the all-new i8 employs laser light technology.

Like in the Audi, the i8's optional laser technology works in conjunction with standard LED lights. Used in the high beams, the lasers deliver brighter lighting that shines twice the distance of a conventional LED high beam, according to BMW. The automaker also says it uses less energy and has a light-emitting surface that's 100 times smaller. You can see a little more information about BMW's laser lights in the new video below.

The laser headlights are just one example of the suite of new technologies in the 2014-season R18 race car. Despite sharing the name and look of its predecessors, the R18 has undergone an intense redesign to meet new LMP1 regulations.

"A fundamental approach to motorsport is being abandoned," says Chris Reinke, head of LMP at Audi Sport. "Instead of power output, energy consumption will be subject to limitations – this is in line with the spirit of our times and opens up great technical freedoms to the engineers. In 2014, we’ll be seeing a wide variety of concepts on the grid at Le Mans."

As in the 2013 R18, the rear wheels are powered by a V6 TDI mid-engine, while the front axle is hooked to an e-tron quattro hybrid system. The car uses a flywheel system to store energy recovered during braking.

The new R18 also has a second hybrid system. Connected to the engine's turbocharger, this system converts thermal energy from the exhaust gas flow into electricity that's directed to the flywheel storage. The flywheel's reserve can be sent to either the front axle motor or to the electric turbocharger to enhance acceleration.

The 2014 R18 will make its racing debut at the 6-hour race at Silverstone (Great Britain) on April 20, 2014. Audi looks to build on a very successful 2013 season that included Le Mans and World Championship titles.

Source: Audi

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

I can't help but feel that the blinded driver heading in the opposite direction won't feel the same way.

Sean-Anthony Sutherland

It would be expensive to buy special glasses for all those rabbits.


Dr. Edwin Land had the idea that headlight glasses could all be polarised in one direction and windshields polarised at 90 degrees to it, which would remove the chance of drivers being dazzled once all vehicles were to the new standard. Polarise the rear-view and side mirrors as well and there would be no chance of being dazzled by following traffic either

Mel Tisdale

@Mel Tisdale,

I presume you are referring to road cars. If so, its all very well having polarised headlamp glasses and windscreens, but what about the millions of older vehicles on the road.

I find existing HID headlights very distracting, as they tend to sent shards of blue light, sometimes pulsed as the vehicle pitches over undulations in the road surface- making me keep checking if there is an emergency vehicle behind.

And what will the effect of laser headlights on wildlife crossing or near the road be? Rabbits famously have enough trouble coping with ordinary halogen headlights...


I have wondered about using lasers, but with a little less coherence, for headlamps. Looks like this might be the latest thing. I sure hope they can make the units full spectrum.

Bruce H. Anderson
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