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BMW Brings Laser Headlight Technology to Motorcycles

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Today is “pass off old news as new news” day in the motorcycle industry. In addition to re-discovering that Dainese is working on a space suit design (circa 2014), another story from 2011 is getting some play: BMW’s laser headlight technology.

The rehashing of this story comes about as BMW Motorrad is at the Consumer Electronics Shows (CES) today, showing its laser headlight technology now on a motorcycle. Cue your Austin Powers jokes, now.

Laser-powered headlights are already available on BMW cars, with the 7 Series and i8 electric car featuring the technology. Thus, the logical progression was to add the frickin’ laser beams to BMW Motorrad’s flagship model, the BMW K1600GTL, which is showing at CES.

According to BMW, the benefits of a laser-powered headlight are a reduction in power (half of a comparable LED system), a brighter and true white light, and a longer high-beam throw distance (600 meters, double that of conventional headlights).

BMW also says that it can more accurately throw the light, with less bleed over, which means that oncoming traffic won’t be blinded by the super-powerful lighting system. This item is especially relevant for Portland, Oregon drivers who can’t seem to find the low-beam setting on their vehicles.

So now the question you are likely asking yourself, how does a laser headlight work? The answer is, not the way you probably think.

The short, fairly non-technical version, is that blue laser light is fired into a set of mirrors, which focus the beam(s) onto a lens that contains yellow phosphorus.

The energy from the laser excites the yellow phosphorus, which in-turn emits a bright pure white light that is then directed out the front of the headlight assembly.

This means that BMW’s laser headlight technology is really more of a laser-powered headlight, than a laser headlight. But, you know, semantics.

BMW says that laser headlight technology is still too expensive to bring to a production motorcycle model, though we would imagine it will be sooner rather than later when we’ll see this technology progress further (you can see the system mounted on the BMW K1600GTL, in the pictures below).

With the motorcycle industry just now figuring out what an LED headlight is, we expect we won’t see the technology at other brands for quite some time. Though, there is an argument that Audi’s version of the laser-powered headlight could easily find its way to Ducati.

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Source: BMW Group

Jensen Beeler

Despite his best efforts, Jensen is called one of the most influential bloggers in the motorcycle industry, and sometimes consults for motorcycle companies, whether they've solicited his expertise or not.

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