Thursday 5 May 2011

Audi R18 TDI: Advantage through LED technology

Audi R18 TDI: Advantage through LED

• Five weeks before the 24 Hours of Le Mans
• Full LED headlights for the new LMP1 sportscar
• Audi with clear advantage in LED technology

Ingolstadt, May 5, 2011 – Always be at least one step ahead of the opposition –
this is Audi’s motto. This is exactly how the Four Rings brand presented the Audi
R18 TDI – the first Le Mans sports car featuring headlights comprising entirely of
light emitting diodes. As a result, the Audi drivers have a significant advantage at
night during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Audi is regarded as a pioneer in the development of LED technology and leads the
competition by a large margin in this field. The twelve-cylinder Audi A8 was the first
car in the world to go into production with LED daytime driving lights. The Audi R8 is
credited with having the first full LED headlights worldwide. Slowly but surely an
increasing number of Audi models are offered with full LEDs as an option, as is the
new Audi A6.
Audi also forces the new headlight technology in motorsport. The Audi R10 TDI was
the first race car with LED daytime driving lights in 2006. The Audi R15 TDI, which
broke the 39 year old distance record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, was
equipped with a combination of Xenon headlights and LEDs.
Audi goes a step further with the innovative Audi R18 TDI: the new LMP1 is the first
Le Mans sports car with full LED headlights. Combined with sophisticated reflectorlens
modules, eight high-power light emitting diodes per side provide unique
illumination of the race track at night.
“When you’ve driven once with full LED headlights you don’t want to have anything
else,” raves Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen. “The light is stronger and
vibrates less than a normal headlight – this is a clear advantage and particularly at
Le Mans, a track that has many dark braking points in the night.”

However, not only the greater illumination is an advantage of LED technology. Light
emitting diodes are maintenance free and extremely reliable. “The vulnerability to
failures is extremely low,” explains Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at
Audi Sport. “To date, we haven’t had a single LED failure.”
Thanks to intensive development of the technology, full LED headlights now also
represent a weight saving compared to common headlights – particularly as Audi
Sport managed to eliminate the electrical cooling of the light emitting diodes still
required in street cars and also found last year in the R15 TDI.
The LEDs in the R18 TDI are cooled by the airflow and still supply enough light even
if the cooling airflow is completely cut by dimming themselves automatically. “Our
colleagues in production car development are very interested to see how we
implement this,” says Christopher Reinke, Technical Project Leader for the Audi R18
TDI. “However, we have the advantage in motorsport that the car spends less time
at a standstill. On the highway, the lights mustn’t go out even if the car is in a traffic
Audi Sport worked closely with the AUDI AG “Light and Sight” section during
development of the full LED headlights. The light tunnel in the Technical
Development (TE) is available for tests. The Audi R18 TDI is credited with a record: It
has the brightest diodes currently in use. These LEDs are currently not registered for
road use.
To a limited extent LED technology also requires a completely new approach. The
R18 TDI prototype’s main beam, which is comprised of five LEDs per side, is not
brighter than the normal low beam. Three extra LEDs create the effect of a high
beam by illuminating the track additionally through an individual position of the
various reflectors.
Audi is the first automobile manufacturer to also use the diverse possibilities of
light emitting diodes as design element. In the R18 TDI the daytime driving light in
the left headlight forms a number “1” which is mirrored on the right side. With this,
Audi aims to express its position as number one in LED technology. It goes without
saying that the knowledge Audi Sport gains at Le Mans with the latest generation
full LED headlights flows automatically into production car development – so that
the advantage through LED technology remains.

Audi Communications Motorsport

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