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May 29, 2012, 3:06 am
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Audi factory drivers look into the future with a digital rear-view
- Advanced AMOLED technology provides clear vision
- Significant contribution to active safety in the Audi R18
- Three more weeks to go before the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours
Ingolstadt, May 24, 2012 – When the Audi factory drivers tackle the Le
Mans 24 Hours (June 16/17, 2012) a very special technology will
enhance their vision. Used for the first time in a closed LMP sports
prototype, the digital rear-view mirror provides a clear view of the
rear and thus substantially improves active safety.
"The work of our drivers in the cockpit is truly heavy
labor," says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich in
praise of his line-up of 13 sports car drivers. Aside from the
physical and mental strain in endurance racing, life for the quick
racers compared with their DTM colleagues is made more difficult by
the special aspect of totally different vision. The extremely low,
central seating position is just one reason for this. Another one is
the fact that – unlike the Audi A5 DTM – none of the closed LMP sports
cars have a rear window.
The concept and structure of the monocoque plus the configuration of
the mid-engine in the Audi R18 leave no room for a rear window.
"So, in the past, our drivers had to strictly rely on the outside
mirrors when looking rearward," explains Dr. Ullrich. "Yet
the rear end and the rear wings plus the vibrations that occur at high
speeds significantly limit the field of vision of these mirrors."
Audi has developed a solution, which thanks to advanced technology
produces an amazing effect. The digital rear-view mirror that shows
what is happening behind the car on an innovative AMOLED display is
better than any conventional mirror.
A camera of very light weight and dimensions of just a few millimeters
sits behind the antennas on the roof of the Audi R18. It captures the
action at the rear on film and transmits the information to the
cockpit as digitalized data. The racing situation behind the vehicle
is shown on a screen that sits in the place where an inside mirror is
"This gives us a whole host of benefits," stresses Dr.
Wolfgang Ullrich. "The operation of the mirror is
weather-neutral. By contrast, when using outside mirrors, heavy water
spray severely impairs the driver's field of vision when it rains. For
the new digital mirror, we worked out various day and night driving
modes. Even when a rival approaches from the rear with high-beam
headlights the image is superb and not just a glaring light
This has only been made possible by the latest diode technology.
Instead of conventional light-emitting diodes an active matrix OLED
(AMOLED) display is used. Its name has been derived from organic
semiconductors. Their major advantage: Like displays, AMOLED screens
can show multi-colored images and offer better resolution thanks to
particularly small pixels with diameters of merely around 0.1
millimeters. Outstanding image quality and short response time are
further positive properties of AMOLEDs. "Therefore, even at 330
km/h we're achieving a totally fluid image flow in real-time
transmission," says a pleased Dr. Ullrich. At this speed, the
Audi R18 covers a distance of 92 meters within a single second. As
these new types of screens are freely programmable, Audi uses them to
display other data as well. Information on the gear that is currently
engaged, the slip level of the tires, and specific warning lights have
been integrated into the central instrument.
"I'm pleased to see that we've managed to make another
contribution to active safety through this technology,"
emphasizes Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We've previously achieved major
effects not only with basic concepts but also through detailed
innovations. The introduction of a tire pressure warning system in the
2001 season in the Audi R8 is just one case in point. Our drivers came
to highly value the digital rear-view mirror right on its premiere at
Spa." At the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship
(WEC) Audi achieved a one-two-three-four victory.
The digital mirror solution is yet another example of the close
meshing of volume production and motorsport. "With respect to the
screen and the programming we greatly benefited from the work of our
colleagues at AUDI AG's Technical Development (TE)," says Dr.
Ullrich. "They helped us move forward with components and
knowledge." In the trial stage the racers even fully relied on an
application that originated at the production side of the house.
"The system was initially installed in an Audi R8 in which we
sent Marcel Fässler and Marco Bonanomi out to test it in road
traffic," recalls Dr. Ullrich. "Today, the system functions
perfectly in the Audi R18 LMP race car. I'm sure that we'll be able to
return valuable findings to our colleagues in TE. We integrated the
system into the vehicle package in an extremely small space and
reduced the aerodynamic effects of the camera and energy consumption
to a minimum. The intensity of the demands in motorsport, such as at
the Le Mans 24 Hours, will cause such a system to mature at an
accelerated pace. If the digital rear-view mirror is introduced in
production vehicles at a future time our consumers will yet again
profit from a system that has been successfully tested in motorsport
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