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Pioneer of light

Pioneer of light

It is a characteristic feature that makes Vorsprung durch Technik physically tangible: Light is playing an ever more important role as a means of communication at Audi.

Copy: Bernd Zerelles - Photo: AUDI AG Reading time: 3 min

Audi Q5 OLED taillights

Light provides so much more than mere illumination on an Audi: The headlights are a defining design feature and give expression to digital technology

The light signature shapes the character of an Audi.

The driving force behind the light innovations is César Muntada, head of light design at Audi. The designer, who has been at Audi since 2007, uses light to shape the character of the vehicle. “Light may not weigh anything, but it nonetheless carries considerable weight. As human beings, our perception of the world is very much dependent on how light portrays it. Light is an important innovation field for Audi; it is part of our DNA. Design and technology come together to create an emotional experience, engendering a clarity with a unique aesthetic,” says the Barcelona-born designer, explaining his maxim.

César Muntada, head of Audi light design

As “eyes,” highly functional headlights and taillights give the car a distinctive face even in the dark, sharpening its character. “You can tell it’s an Audi in the dark from a distance because although the light signatures we design are different, they still underscore the fact that the car is part of the Audi family. Thanks to digitalization, we can create a light design that suits the character of the customer. Our aim is to achieve the perfect symbiosis between the entire vehicle sculpture and the progressive look of the digital eyes.”

Audi Q5 light design

Some see a new light. We see a new vision.

The digitalization of the lights has enabled Audi to strengthen the interplay between technology and design – through light in motion, for example. The dynamic turn signal is not only attractive, but also an easily understandable form of information for all road users.
And since first impressions last – whether with people or cars – coming-home and leaving-home sequences add an emotional charge to the effect generated by the light. Locking and unlocking the vehicle triggers dynamic light shows in the headlights and taillights that reflect its distinctive character.
César explains: “We design the form and motion of digital light functions and thus create a unique aesthetic as a distinguishing Audi feature. We make the digital physically tangible.”
The visions of what a vehicle’s light may be capable of doing someday go much further: Headlights could project symbols onto the road to warn other road users of dangers – such as an ice hazard.  The Audi light designers and engineers are certainly not short of ideas; but for the time being, it is legal regulations that determine what is possible in this regard.
“As Audi light designers, we no longer only spend our time designing lights, but also developing our own light-based language for communication purposes. We have gone from ‘thinking out of the box’ to ‘designing out of the box’.”

Audi Q5 taillight

Customers can benefit from this modern OLED light technology in models like the Audi Q5. The SUV features optional taillights based on digital OLED technology, allowing customers to choose between three different signatures, which was a world first upon launch. In addition, the customer has the ability to set their own dynamic coming-home and leaving-home light sequences for every single signature. Another vehicle highlight is the proximity detection system. If a road user approaches a stationary Audi Q5 from the rear within a distance of two meters, all OLED segments are activated as a warning. When the Audi Q5 starts to move off, it automatically returns to the original light signature. This function provides a glimpse of what will be possible with car-to-x communication, where the vehicle interacts with its surroundings.