By Mark Kleis
Friday, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
 
Although LED headlamps are only now starting to roll out as standard or optional features on luxury and high-end sports cars, that isn't stopping BMW from continuing the march towards the light of innovation.

The German automaker says that laser technology is the "next logical step [following LED] in car light development," so of course BMW is already hard at work in development.

BMW engineers say they hope to introduce laser-based headlamps into automobiles within the next few years at the production level, suggesting the technology could allow for all-new light functions and unprecedented safety never before possible with current and past lighting technologies.

BMW explains that, by definition, light from lasers is radically different than that of the light coming from the sun or other forms of artificial lighting. The main difference lies in the fact that light comes in just one color, or is monochromatic or coherent, to be exact. As a result, laser light waves all contain a constant phase difference which allows near-parallel beams with intensity - get this - one thousand times greater than that of LEDs.

But what is also unique and valuable about laser lighting is that it is actually twice as energy efficient as even LED lighting, which is touted for its extreme efficiency already.

What about safety? Don't worry, says BMW, you won't see laser beams cutting cars, pedestrians and cyclists in half any time soon. The lasers used in automobiles will project a light light for all humans and animals, which is also not emitted directly but is first converted into a form more suitable for its purpose.

Because of its compact size and highly efficient nature (1 watt produces about 100 lumens in an LED light compared to 170 from a laser), BMW has naturally chosen to use the i sub-brand to debut the new technology on the BMW i8 Concept.