BMW develops laser headlights...take that, LED
It sounds very sci-fi, but BMW is developing a road-going laser headlight system set for launch on its flagship hyper-efficient performance car, the i8, in 2014.
It was Audi that pioneered LED daytime running lights, leaving the rest of the automotive industry scrabbling to keep up with its high-fashion automotive accessory, but unperturbed by the craze, BMW is bypassing LEDs altogether and reaching straight for the lasers.
BMW claims its laser lighting system, developed in conjunction with Japanese firm Nichia, is 1,000 times brighter and 100 times smaller than the conventional square cells currently used in LED lights.
In addition to the size advantage, the laser lights are much more efficient than LEDs and only consume around half the power.
With ever tightening emissions regulations and more and more importance being placed upon fuel efficiency, the reduced power consumption from laser lights will please the environmental enthusiast as well as the performance driver.
Interestingly, the increased brightness of a laser headlight over a conventional or LED setup raises the possibility of traditional headlamps being a thing of the past. This will see designers given an opportunity to create a much more dramatic impact in terms of the overall aesthetics of a vehicle.
We've all seen the warning signs on laser devices telling us not to look directly into the beam, but BMW's latest device has been designated a Class One laser.
This means no legislative hoops to jump through and no additional safety devices need to be employed for the system to be used on the road – in fact, the technology is similar to that used in the medical and military sectors already.
With a 10,000 hour life span, the new laser lighting system's longevity won't be called into question either.