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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Listener Thoughts On Laser Beam Headlights

Audi's new laser headlight technology will make its way into the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro race car. (Audi Sport)

Audi’s new laser headlight technology will make its way into the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro race car. (Audi Sport)

Earlier this week, Paul Eisenstein, publisher of the car news website The Detroit Bureau, joined us to talk about all the high-tech car innovations at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (See the interview here.)

There was one thing he said that drew some pretty strong listener reaction. It was about a new device from Audi.

“This is a car that replaces its high beams with laser beams. And it’s so powerful that with the high beams this vehicle would be able to light up the road a third of a mile ahead of you,” Eisenstein said.

Fay Nissenbaum wrote in the comments, “Brighter headlights – arent we blinded already by those using high beams all the time?”

Rick Evans wrote, “Laser high beams? Wonderful. Now we will have morons blinding oncoming drivers from a third of a mile away. In today’s over illuminated cities and suburbs you hardly need to use headlights, much less blind people with high beams or those idiotic extra bright bluish lights.”

Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti says she followed up with Eisenstein about the headlights, and he said it’s not certain that Audi is going to do a production version of the laser-high beams, and if they do, it will almost certainly have an auto-dimming feature. He said other car companies are also experimenting with auto-dimming features.

Let us know what you think in the comments below, or the comments in the original story.

Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

Where we also really heard, Robin, from you, listeners, after another story we aired earlier this week. Paul Eisenstein of the automotive news website TheDetroitBureau.com, he joined us to talk about all those high-tech car innovations at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. And there was one thing he said that drew some pretty strong reaction from people across the country.

It was about a new device from Audi.

PAUL EISENSTEIN: This is a car that replaces its high beams with laser beams, and it's so powerful that this vehicle would be able to light up the road a third of a mile ahead of you.

CHAKRABARTI: Brighter headlights? Aren't we blinded already by using those high beams all the time? That was one response on our website from Fay Nissenbaum(ph). And Rick Evens(ph) also chimed in. He added: Last high beams, wonderful, now we'll have idiots blinding oncoming drivers from a third of a mile away. He goes on to write in today's over-illuminated cities and suburbs, you hardly need to use headlights or those idiotic extra-bright bluish lights.

And Robin, I have to say quite frankly I felt the same way because my eyes are pretty good, not perfect, and I'll tell you that sometimes when I drive down the road at night, I feel like I have to squint a bit because of how bright some headlights already are.

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

Well, you flash at them to turn them down. But what did Paul say?

CHAKRABARTI: Well, he said that first of all it's not certain that Audi is going to do a production version of the laser high beams. And if they do, it will almost certainly have auto-dimming features on it. Paul also said that other car companies are experimenting with auto-dimming features.

EISENSTEIN: One of the really interesting things, the latest Mercedes S-Class has a technology on it that actually uses some semi-mechanical technologies that will block part of the headlight. So if it sees a car coming towards you, it will actually put a blocker in front of part of the headlight so only the part that doesn't go into the oncoming traffics' eyes of drivers will still be allowed to shine on the road.

CHAKRABARTI: So that's something. But is it enough for you? Let us know at hereandnow.org. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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