Brighter, lighter, cooler.
Audi is no stranger to innovation and has been making impressive headway in the electric vehicle market with its best selling e-tron. But the German carmaker also dabbles in other areas of tech such as automotive lighting, and more specifically OLED technology. The 2020 Audi Q5 is the first Audi to be released with the next generation of digital OLED lighting technology. Audi has been spotted testing the 2021 Sportback model, but prospective buyers will be happy to know that it's still investing in the current model. Audi has been a pioneer of the organic light-emitting diode since 2016, and now a digitalized version promises to improve road safety and increase personalization.
So what exactly are OLED light sources? According to Dr. Werner Thomas, OLED technology project manager at Audi, OLED sources are panel radiators, which offer an extremely homogenous source of light, instead of standard LED lights which are point sourced using semiconductor crystals. OLED lights are "infinitely dimmable and achieves very high contrast" and can be split into segments which in turn can be individually controlled giving off varying levels of brightness with minimal gaps between the segments. OLED lights do not need reflectors or optical fibers which means that they are extremely efficient, lightweight, and take up minimal space.
"Headlight technology has seen a rapid evolution at Audi in recent decades. In addition, we have been decisively driving the development of rear-lighting systems," says Thomas.
OLED lighting elements are only one millimeter thick as opposed to traditional LED units that are up to 30 mm thick, and the energy required to run an OLED light source is infinitely smaller than what is required with an LED setup. OLED tech made its debut in the 2016 Audi TT RS, and up until this point, Audi cars fitted with OLED lights have had four individually controllable segments that can be used for individual lighting designs.
"Up to now, we have been using OLED segmentation with the Audi TT RS and A8 for designing signature lighting. This has changed with the Q5. Here the taillights turn into a kind of display on the outer shell, which will provide us with ample opportunities and prospects in terms of design, personalization, communication, and safety going forward," Thomas concludes.