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Old 01-06-2016, 06:10 AM   #1
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Laser headlights under development for K 1600

BMW shows nextgen lighting tech at CES

HEADLIGHTS are one of the areas of vehicle development that have advanced by leaps over the last decade or so and BMW is keen to show that there’s still scope for further massive improvement by incorporating lasers into them.

The firm is already a leader in the technology, since it sells its i8 and 7 Series cars with laser lights already, but it’s now interested in adapting the idea to bikes. Bear in mind that BMW has already been leading the way with adaptive headlights that alter their beam around corners – an idea that other firms have been quick to adopt as well – and it’s easy to imagine that laser lights could be the next big step forward.

Why lasers? Well, these aren’t the sort of lasers that appear in sci-fi movies, so you won’t be zapping aliens with them, but they do deliver a particularly bright and white light, giving a high-beam range of 600 metres compared to around 300 metres for conventional headlights. BMW says the technology also has a longer service life than other lighting technologies.

The prototype on show at CES in Las Vegas is a K 1600 GTL adapted to use the new tech, showing that it can be packaged into a motorcycle. BMW admits that, at the moment, the laser headlights are simply too expensive for a production bike – that’s why they only appear on the firm’s priciest cars so far – but that economies of scale mean that as production ramps up, laser lights are only going to get cheaper. By developing bike-specific laser headlights, BMW should be in a position to be first on the market with the technology as soon as it reaches a low enough price to be accepted by motorcycle buyers.

As with the firm’s cars, as and when bikes do get laser headlights, it will be the most expensive machines that receive them first, so it makes sense that the top-of-the-range K 1600 GTL is the testbed.
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