BMW LaserLight highlights future tech

18 Feb, 2014 3:12pm Dave Humphreys

Laser headlight technology becomes a production car reality with the BMW i8

The BMW i8 will be the first series production car in the world to feature the option of laser headlights. Although the i8 is already on sale, with prices starting at £99,895, the first cars will feature full LED headlights. However, later in the year, the laser lights will be added to the options list, although prices are to be confirmed.

Ahead of this, Auto Express had the chance to sample the new technology at a recent innovation event. BMW demonstrated these new headlights during a night drive in a prototype 7 Series.

The lasers are used for the headlight’s high beam function, and are used in conjunction with powerful LED lights. When combined in this way, the beam the light produces is capable of illuminating a larger area than current LED technology. The lasers operate over a significantly longer distance of up to 600 metres, making them around twice as powerful as an LED high beam.

BMW is still refining the technology, hence the delay in adding the option to the i8 range. One problem its engineers have is tweaking the system to reduce the level of glare emitted from reflective street signs.

On-board, the adaptive system can sense on-coming traffic, adjusting and dimming the respective light in order to prevent other drivers from being dazzled. The advanced system concentrates the majority of its light in between the road’s boundaries, even responding to steering inputs.

Following its debut in the i8, the availability of laser headlights will extend to other models in the range, including the all-new BMW 7 Series due to be revealed later this year. In addition to its own models, BMW could sell the tech to other carmakers. The firm has been developing laser headlights since 2009, and holds numerous patents protecting its technology.