BMW Z3 GT3 laser headlight.Enlarge Photo
You've seen the photos, read about the technology, and made plenty of "frickin' lasers" jokes. Now, watch as BMW's laser headlights get their first motorsport test.
The German carmaker will bring the technology to the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring Nordschliefe, in what it says is the first use of laser headlights in racing.
Four BMW Z3 GT3 racers campaigned by BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert and BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS equipped with the innovative lighting tech--which will also be available on the 2015 i8 plug-in hybrid road car--completed qualifying for the June race this past weekend.
First shown on the i8 concept at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, the headlights offer several potential benefits, including increased range and clarity. That's because laser light is monochromatic--the light emitted has a single wavelength, rather than the full-color spectrum emitted by other lighting systems.
This allows for far greater light density and a more precise beam pattern. BMW claims the laser's range is more than 600 meters, about twice the range of the average LED headlight.
BMW says this offers significant safety benefits on the track. The increased range will provide better visibility, while the more-focused beam will help keep the lights from blinding other drivers.
Laser lights are also more energy-efficient than LEDs and--because a laser diode is 10 times smaller than a conventional light diode--smaller. This makes them easier to package and reduces weight--always a good thing in a race car.
BMW laser headlights will hit the track for the Nürburgring 24-hour race this June, and will hit showrooms on the 2015 i8 this fall.