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

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Home Theater

QLED and OLED may have similar names, but they're totally different technologies

The names may look almost identical, but OLED and QLED are two entirely different beasts. In our QLED vs. OLED battle, we dissect the differences between these dueling TV technologies, and help determine which might be best for you.

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Home Theater

Optoma’s all-in-one laser projector gives you 120 inches of 4K for $3,000

All too often, a really big image size for your home theater has meant tons of money for a large TV, or putting up with the compromises of a decent projector. Optoma's new P1 4K laser projector puts an end to that dilemma.

With 341 horsepower, the WRX STI S209 is the most powerful Subaru ever

The Subaru WRX STI S209 is the latest in a series of special editions that have never been sold in the United States before. The 341-horsepower pocket rocket debuts at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.

China’s GAC Motor cruises into Detroit with all-electric Entranze concept

Chinese automaker GAC Motor brought its all-electric Entranze concept to the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. This is the third straight year that GAC has appeared in Detroit, and the company has established a design center in California.

2020 Ford Explorer branches out with sporty ST, efficiency-focused hybrid models

The 2020 Ford Explorer gets two variants never before seen on Ford's stalwart family hauler. The ST focuses on performance, while the hybrid aims for decent gas mileage. Both models will debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.

Some of Volkswagen’s electric models will wear a ‘Made in the USA’ label

Confirming earlier rumors, Volkswagen has announced it will build electric cars in its Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory. The facility currently produces the Passat and the Atlas. Production will start in 2023, Digital Trends can reveal.

Infiniti previews its leap into one of the hottest industry segments

Infiniti will unveil the QX Inspiration concept at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The design study is an electric crossover shaped by Infiniti's newest design language that may point to a future production model.

Hyundai’s Veloster N hot hatchback will prove its mettle on the track

The Hyundai Veloster N will go racing to prove the credibility of Hyundai's new N performance division. Unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Veloster N race car will compete in a class with other small cars.

Nissan IMs concept teases a future long-range, autonomous electric car

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Nissan IMs is an electric car with a 380-mile range, autonomous-driving capability, and a backseat designed for being chauffeured. Too bad it's just a concept car.

The 2020 Lexus RC F goes on a diet to run faster and hit harder

The Lexus RC F has been one of the heavier cars in its competitive set since its introduction. The Japanese firm's engineers set out to shed weight as they gave the model a mid-cycle update.

Lexus LC convertible concept teases a new open-air flagship

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Lexus LC convertible concept adds open-air motoring to the sleek LC's resume. But Lexus won't commit to a production version of the car just yet.

Fast and Furious fans get revved up: Toyota’s Supra sports car is back

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.