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More visibility, safety from laser headlights

Published:Sunday | February 15, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Chad Bryan, Staff Reporter

German automaker BMW has created advanced intelligent lighting in its M4 model. Already available in Germany, the technology made its US debut at last month's consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

However, there will have to be some regulation changes in order for the innovative headlights to make it on to US roads.

Presenting the M4's concept lights, the German automaker showed how advanced technology has revolutionised automotive headlights. In a darkened demonstration room, BMW showed how stunning the lighting is, the laser headlights throwing a beam up to 650 yards further than the LED lights with which a number of vehicles are currently equipped.

The laser lights are reflected through filters and will not harm pedestrians. In addition, the laser diodes use a fraction of the electric power modern headlights currently require.

Taking the concept a bit further, a camera in the car can identify potential hazards on the road ahead, such as an animal or pedestrians. The headlights then focuses spotlight on the specific area, alerting the driver to the impending hazard.

Currently, the technology is available in Germany, but the United States Department of Transportation's rules will need to be changed in order to make the laser headlight legal in the US.

Driver-assistance feature

The vehicle's most innovative feature has the headlights serving as a driver-assistance feature. On the demonstration video showcased at the electronics show, a large truck swerved into the lane the car was in. The BMW's headlights used the camera data to indicate lines on the road between the truck and the roadside for the driver to utilise.

A warning signal appeared when the car's computer determined the space was too narrow to attempt passing.