At the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, running through Jan. 26, 2014, Audi has introduced the A8 and S8 flagship vehicles for the 2015 model year without the LED-based Matrix headlamps that were first demonstrated a year ago at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and won acclaim at the Frankfurt Auto Show back in September. The 2015 vehicles for the US market will still rely on LED lighting for 100% of the exterior needs including the headlamps, but the headlamps on the US models will be similar to the ones the company has supplied previously with low- and high-beam settings.
The Matrix headlamps utilize a unique design with five clusters of five LEDs that can be controlled to produce steerable beams. The design utilizes a forward-facing camera to ensure that the headlamps don't impair oncoming drivers by steering the beams away from the eyes of oncoming drivers. The adaptive design can also steer the beams to assist a driver rounding a corner and to help illuminate pedestrians and other obstacles.
Still, the Matrix design does not comply with US regulations that specify low- and high-beam settings. The Motor Authority website reported specifically that the US models did not include the Matrix headlamps due to local regulations. In the news release that Audi issued about the new models, the company did not mention the Matrix technology but simply touted standard LED headlamps on the vehicles.
We hosted a webcast in September focused on LEDs for automotive applications. During that event the panels discussed the Matrix technology and US regulations. The prevailing thought was that the US would move to allow such technologies, but if that happened it didn't occur soon enough for the technology debut.