Car and headlights – a pairing that is highly significant for driving comfortably and safely. New technologies are now revolutionizing the automotive world: With the BMWi8, OSRAM presented the world’s first vehicle with laser headlights in 2014 as the Bavarian car manufacturer’s system partner. Inside the car, another world premiere by OSRAM attracted enthusiastic attention: the first organic light-emitting diode (OLED) based flashlight.
Reliable car headlights are essential for safe driving. In this field, light technology provides important inspiration to the automotive industry: the first laser unit integrated into a road-going vehicle was developed by OSRAM and its subsidiary OSRAM Opto Semiconductors in collaboration with the BMW Group and headlight manufacturer ZKW. It lights up the road ahead of the BMWi8.
“Laser beams have an extremely far reach and an efficiency level that is as yet unparalleled,” says Hans-Joachim Schwabe, CEO Specialty Lighting at OSRAM. The lights are also non-glare: the headlight’s so-called speed-adaptive controls and the fact that it is coupled to a digital, camera-based high beam assistant prevent this.
Laser diodes are around ten times smaller than an LED. In comparison to the usual LED high beam systems, they have a further lighting distance of up to 20 per cent – which is currently the greatest distance headlights can offer. “Laser headlights are the next step for development in automotive lighting,” says Ralf Hying, Project Director Laser Applications at OSRAM. “A team of around 200 at Osram has contributed to making this technology market mature.” Other car manufacturers have already voiced their interest. “However, in the coming years, it will primarily be used by the premium brands,” says Hying.
With the launch of the BMWi8, OSRAM also presented a further innovation inside the car: a flashlight or reading light that uses innovative technology, the OLED Reading Light. Organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) generate an even, warm light in this little light that casts no shadows. The small lamp is housed inside a brushed aluminum housing. Its brightness is fully adaptable by means of a control slide.
“The OLED technology is perfect for applications where the eyes have to focus on one particular point for a long time,” says Hans-Joachim Schwabe. The driver can attach the OLED Reading Light at the sun shade, for example, thanks to a clip on the back of the light. It is charged via a USB connection. It will go into series production in 2016.
In the field of car headlights, OSRAM is one of the world’s leading companies. Half of all passenger cars manufactured worldwide are equipped with OSRAM lights.