This year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas some of Audi’s new car tech features were revealed. One of the items showcased was the LED lighting headlights, which are said to improve autonomous-driving capabilities.
What looks like a regular full-LED headlight unit is actually more high-tech. Other than being comprised of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), the unit is linked to a camera and uses sensors to create an aimed beam of light around corners.
These are Audi’s Matrix LED high-beam headlamps, which will only be available in Europe in 2013 A8 models. That option will be available in the A8 sedan for an additional $3,000. What’s unique about the Matrix headlights is that they use a camera that watches out for pedestrians and other cars. They are capable of separately activating, deactivating or diming individual LEDs according to the situation.
Unfortunately, this lighting unit is banned by U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), claiming that such lamps don’t meet car regulations—in other words, abide by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108; therefore, American automakers will not be able to use Audi's dynamic new headlights. This also means Audi A8 cars in America will only be producing halogen or xenon bulbs to generate the necessary lighting to illuminate the road ahead of the vehicle.
Even though LEDs have been put to use in consumer electronic devices for decades, they have yet to convince the U.S. to change its law about their use in cars. For the time being, Americans will not be able to use Audi’s signature LED headlights that are said to have a brighter high-beam function.
Drivers agree that switching to brighter headlights increases their visibility, also making the ride safer by maintaining high visibility for other drivers.
Until the NHTSA sees how the Audi’s new Matrix A8 headlamps can also benefit U.S. motorists and improve the driving performance, it looks as though Americans will still have to question why LEDS are banned in their country.
Until that time comes when Audi can bring Matrix-beam LED lighting in to the U.S., drivers will have to rely on switching their car headlamps from high-beam to low-beam to see where they are going.
Edited by Brooke Neuman