Headlights are so 2013!
German car company Audi is prepared to debut its latest concept car, the Sport Quattro Laserlight, the upcoming International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
As such, it will be the second year running that Audi has chosen the International CES, rather than a traditional auto show, to showcase its latest technological breakthrough.
In 2013, Audi’s autonomous driving and parking technologies were the highlights of the show and in 2014 the company is clearly planning to wow the crowds again.
On the surface, the Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight Concept is almost identical in appearance to the Sport Quattro Concept that made its debut in Frankfurt in September — it’s even powered by the same electric motor/V8 hybrid engine capable of pumping out 700hp.
However, it is markedly different in two respects. Firstly, as its name suggests, it users laser technology rather than boring old lights for illuminating the road ahead.
The use of lasers doesn’t mean that drivers will be able to slice up slow-moving traffic ahead of them, a la James Bond. Lasers are more accurate and are three times brighter than the best LED headlamps and, even when used on full beam, are less distracting to other road users. They also have an effective range of 500 meters. That’s why BMW’s new i8 hybrid supercar is already using them.
But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the car boasts what Audi is describing as a new “3D” display powered by a Nvidia Tegra 30 processor. That’s the sort of hi-tech hardware usually found in top of the range gaming PCs, rather than in sporty German coupes.
As well as taking the wraps off the car, Audi is also widely expected to announce a partnership with Google and the aforementioned Nvidia, which will see the companies working together to develop in-car infotainment and other driver applications that run on a car’s hardware rather than via a smartphone.
Although there has been no official announcement yet as to exactly what will be revealed, many automotive and tech experts are already dubbing the partnership ‘Android for the Car’ in reference to Apple’s new ‘iOS in the Car’ technology that transplants an iPhone’s functionality to a car dashboard.
Though exciting — consumers want smartphone functionality in their cars, whether it be access to navigation apps, music playlists or hands-free voice calls, and car makers have a responsibility for providing infotainment functionality that is safe to use while driving — the possibility that car companies could be forced into supporting either Android or Apple, rather than both, is potentially worrying.