Automobile headlights have evolved significantly in the past several years from the incandescent beams of the past to halogens to LEDs. Laser headlights, which were first introduced in the BMW i8, take this even further providing a brilliant white light to illuminate the road ahead.
BMW says that laser headlights can be up to 1,000 times brighter than an LED while consuming significantly less power. They can also light up to 6 times more road than traditional LED low beams, providing significantly increased visibility.
How do laser headlights work?
The first thing to understand is that laser headlights don’t actually shoot laser beams at the road ahead. Instead, three blue lasers fire their beams onto a set of mirrors. The mirrors then focus the energy into a lens filled with yellow phosphorus which in turn emits an intense white light. The reflected light from these beams is safe to be looked at directly.
Are laser headlights worth the cost?
US regulators are still hesitant to allow mass adoption of laser headlights because of a 1968 rule prohibiting high beams that can’t be manually shut off. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is considering adding headlight technology to its formula for ranking the safety of individual vehicles. If they do so, this could increase adoption of a number of lighting advancements including laser headlights.