There has been a long tradition of advances in automotive technology being blocked by American safety regulators. Automakers are always a step ahead of those who regulate what is permitted on our new cars. Audi’s latest headlamp technology will once again shine some light on that disparity.
At the 2014 installment of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Audi will debut the Quattro Sport Laserlight Concept to the tech-savvy masses. Performance fans will appreciate the 700-horsepower, twin-turbo V8 and all-wheel drive, but the real story for CES is the new Matrix LED headlights.
According to Audi, the system will consist of “two low-profile trapezoidal elements are visible within the headlights – the outer one generates the low beam light using matrix LEDs and an aperture mask, while the inner element produces laser light for high-beam functionality.” Audi claims it can illuminate the road for 500 meters (1,640 ft).
Government safety regulators have already blocked the previous iteration of these headlights, so you can imagine that it will be a while before we see this tech in road cars.
In the last decade, German rival Mercedes-Benz has had similar issues with its new navigation systems and displays. The first was a screen that could tilt toward either the driver or the front passenger. When faced towards the front passenger it could show a DVD but when shown toward the driver would only show navigation and vehicle information. Safety regulators initially blocked the tech, and when they finally allowed it, Mercedes had a new version: a hologram system that could present two images from one display. Safety regulators blocked this too, but eventually allowed it through. You can bet this will be the same fate as Audi’s new headlight tech.