Holy race lasers, Batman! Audi’s R18 Le Mans hybrid racecar has lasers … for headlights

A racecar that looks like the Batmobile with lasers on it? Seven-year-old me is very, very excited. But, really, there couldn’t be a better car to use the new lighting technology than Audi’s new Le Mans racer the R18 e-tron quattro.

I don’t just mean that frivolously either. One of the big challenges of endurance racing is that you have to travel at race speeds at night. Low light not only makes it hard to see the track ahead of you, and drains your mental energy, it also drastically limits peripheral vision. That can be a terrifying proposition at 120 mph.

All this makes lighting a surprisingly important factor for endurance racers. Laser light is an important step forward. Laser lights work by diffusing two laser beams through a diffusing lens to create an elliptical light source, rather than the point light source we are familiar with from lasers.

The critical advantage of laser headlights is that the illumination they produce doesn’t dissipate nearly as quickly as that from traditional or even LED headlamps.

The other big advantage of laser lights is the type of illumination they produce. The closer a headlight can mimic the sort of light produced by the sun, the more effective it is. Our eyesight is understandably geared towards working in sunlight. And so even a very bright light that produces light in a different wavelength than the sun won’t illuminate nearly as well.

Laser lights can nearly perfectly mimic the ‘color temperature’ produced by the sun. This is a huge advantage is night racing, where the ability to see the track with the same clarity as you would during the day could shave time off of a lap.

This fits with the overall goals of the R18 e-tron, which seeks not just to go fast, but to go fast efficiently. As we reported recently, the R18 already makes use of two different hybrid systems and a high efficiency turbo diesel race engine. So anything that helps the car make use of the speed it already has is a big advantage.

It will be interesting to see how all this efficiency fairs when it comes to actual racing, but, given that it looks like the Batmobile, I am optimistic. 

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Desk lamps take on a new task by converting their light to power

What if we could charge devices using light from indoor sources like desk lamps? A group of scientists working on a technology called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) aim to do just that.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Deals

Walmart slices price on Canon ImageClass MF232W Wi-Fi laser printer

If you don’t need color printing, a monochrome laser printer like the Canon ImageClass MF232W can save you a lot of time and money. This beefy all-in-one Wi-Fi printer is on sale from Walmart for almost half off, letting you score it for…
Cars

Sibling rivalry: The Tesla Model Y takes on the Tesla Model 3

Tesla expanded its lineup with a fourth car named Model Y. It's an electric crossover positioned as a more spacious alternative to the Model 3. The two cars share about 75 percent of their components, but they're aimed at different buyers.
Cars

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.
Cars

Automakers are spending billions on self-driving technology people are afraid of

Automakers are spending billions of dollars on developing the technology that will power self-driving cars, but research shows consumers have no interest in giving up control. Will they ever recoup their investment?
Cars

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second station wagon will arrive in 2020

The Mission E Cross Turismo concept Porsche unveiled during the 2018 Geneva Auto Show will morph into a production model tentatively named Taycan Cross Turismo. This 600-horsepower electric station wagon will arrive in showrooms by 2021.
Cars

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford posted an enigmatic picture of a blue Mustang emblem on a black background right as Tesla prepared to introduce the Model Y. Is the Blue Oval teasing a hybrid Mustang, or is it previewing a Mustang-inspired, battery-powered crossover?
Cars

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.
Cars

Unrestrained by heritage, Polestar sets its sights on becoming a digital brand

With no heritage to worry about, Polestar is free to move full-speed ahead towards its goal of becoming a digital brand. All of the company's upcoming models will be electric, and they will inaugurate an Android-powered infotainment system.
Cars

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Cars

Fisker plans sub-$40,000 electric SUV with 300 miles of range for 2021

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Cars

Tesla gives us a cryptic look at its cyberpunk, Blade Runner-inspired pickup

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself. It could make its debut in 2019.