Early one morning last month a car followed me into work at very high speed. Its running lights were bizarre.
Bright, angry blue slashes that stuck out even in the early morning summer sun. Usually able to figure out a car instantly by its shape or headlight configuration, I simply couldn't identify the make or model.
A bit of searching led me to the Audi A5. And I found an excellent explanation of the headlight technology in AudiWorld:
Daytime running lights make an impression
The xenon plus headlights on the Audi A5 with the optional adaptive light system include a raft of innovations that were previously unavailable in this vehicle segment. The most striking feature of the stylishly designed light modules is the revolutionary strip of daytime running lights comprising eight light-emitting diodes on each side. From a safety point of view, they provide an important enhancement by making the Audi A5 easier to see, especially in critical visibility conditions, for instance, when the sun is low in the sky. Moreover, the LED strip on the lower edge of the headlight is also a clear distinguishing feature for the Audi A5.
Separate daytime running lights are expected to become legally obligatory for all new cars in the EU from September 2010. Audi is already offering the maximum safety advantage of this feature today with an extraordinary design and low energy draw. The power consumption per headlight is only 12 watts. That ultimately saves fuel...
The A5 headlights use a new mercury-free xenon system. Conventional xenon bulbs contain small quantities of mercury, which can now be eliminated thanks to new bulb and control unit technology. At speeds of 120 km/h or higher, the dynamic headlight range control raises the light cone slightly to illuminate a longer stretch of road ahead for motorway driving.
The adaptive light is an additional feature of the xenon headlights. At speeds between 10 and 110 km/h, this dynamic cornering light system turns the ellipsoidal module for the dipped and main beams to follow the line of the road and bends. This greatly improves illumination in front of the vehicle and to the sides, making it easier for the driver to anticipate the course of the road ahead.
Once you see 'em in person, you'll know what the fuss is about.
Linked by: Dan Riehl. Thanks! Hat tips: AudiWorld