The next generation of a lighting technology has been premiered in the Audi Q5 - digital OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology. Audi was a pioneer in this field as far back as in 2016. Now digitalisation is ringing in a new age. Audi says the technology promises to improve road safety and is the first to allow for personalisation of the tail light signature.
Dr. Werner Thomas, OLED technology project manager at Audi, said: “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.” The latest milestone achievement: now the brand is the first automobile manufacturer to digitise the tail lights.
OLED light sources are panel radiators – unlike point light sources such as LEDs using semiconductor crystals. The benefits of OLEDs: Their light is extremely homogeneous. It is infinitely dimmable and achieves very high contrast. It can be split into segments. These segments are individually controllable and can develop diverse levels of brightness, with minimal gaps between the segments. The lighting unit does not require any reflectors, optical fibers or similar optics. This makes OLED units very efficient, lightweight and flat, which considerably increases design freedom.
An OLED lighting element is just one millimeter thin, while conventional LED solutions require much greater installed depths of 20 to 30 millimeters. The energy requirement of an OLED is once again significantly lower than that of LED optics if the latter are to achieve similar homogeneity. Audi’s OLED technology made its production debut in the taillight of the Audi TT RS2 in 2016. Up to now, Audi models using OLED lighting technology have had up to four individually controllable, complex lighting segments that could be used for an individual, defined lighting design.
The larger number of individually controllable segments can now be randomly activated, with continuous variability of brightness. In the Q5, three tiles of six units each, in other words 18 segments per lamp, are currently used. The high precision and great variability offer light designers a wealth of opportunities, using just one type of hardware. Q5 customers opting for digital OLED technology have a choice of three signatures in the taillights when purchasing their car. In the “dynamic” Audi drive select mode, the lamps additionally switch to another signature. Moreover, animation effects such as coming-home/leaving-home lighting scenarios can be implemented, plus the dynamic flashing light has been integrated in the new lamp units as well.
In the new Q5, Audi has implemented a proximity detection feature for the versions using digital OLED taillights. When another road user approaches a stationary Q5 from the rear within less than two meters, all the OLED segments light up. When the Q5 starts to move, it returns to the original light signature. This is just an initial example of the automobile’s car-to-x communication with its surroundings.