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Transportation Shark

Laser Headlights Promise More Intense, Controllable Beams 376

cartechboy writes "Soon, your new car's headlights will be powered by lasers. The 2015 BMW i8 is entering production, and it's the first vehicle to offer laser headlights. These new beams offer a handful of advantages over LED lighting, including greater lighting intensity and extending the beams' reach as far as 600 meters down the road (nearly double the range of LEDs). The beam pattern also can be controlled very precisely. Plus, laser lights consumer about 30 percent less energy than the already-efficient LED lights. Audi is among the short list of other auto manufacturers to promise laser lights in the near future. But the coolest part of all this? When you turn on a set of these new headlights, you'll be able to scream, 'fire the lasers!'"
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Laser Headlights Promise More Intense, Controllable Beams

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  • Re:brighter? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @04:07AM (#46226617)

    Laser pointers are quite different than laser headlights.The key is divergence. A laser pointer is tuned to spread out as little as possible with distance and can therefore be quite powerful at long distances. A headlight, through the use of dispersing phosphors and or lenses is designed to spread out and cover much more area. Illuminating a 1/2 inch circle 600 yards down the road is not much use.The key is that laser light is more controllable. Perhaps directing more light lower down along the road. Laser headlight will use a laser initiator but when the beam comes out of the headlight it will be far from cohesive.

  • funny... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:24AM (#46227275) Homepage

    "already efficient LED headlights"

    That are actually inefficient as hell. HID still blows them away for lumens output at power consumed. LED's only advantage is a nearly 60K mile life on a car, but replacement is $450 each instead of the $45.00 each for an HID setup, or $4.00 each for halogen.

  • Re:brighter? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @08:24AM (#46227459)

    No, a laser on it's own produces coherent light but it is not focussed. If you for example run a laser diode without any optics you will just get a big spot on the wall. It acts more like a spotlight than a laser beam (but you will get very annoying speckles from interference patterns since the light is coherent). This type of headlights has no focusing optic (well, there is one to direct the white light, but it will not focus it to a tight beam) that you will simply get a bright blue light instead of a death ray. Likely it is even eye safe at a distance of >30cm.

  • Re:brighter? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Quila ( 201335 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @11:25AM (#46228755)

    Most bad HID lights are aftermarket junk.

    But this system looks pretty good. It has a camera that looks out for oncoming lights and dims them. If done really well, since it's laser, it could shape the beam to avoid oncoming cars while still lighting up the rest of the road. It would be nice if that were on all cars.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @12:04PM (#46229119)

    Right, talk about a bad headline. Laser-excited phosphors are a completely different thing than lasers, and that's a really good thing. It's not even a good idea to shine a laser pointer directly into your eyes for any length of time, can you imagine driving past a line of oncoming cars with laser headlights? Your vision would be lucky to survive the week. Not to mention the horrible, horrible dazzle of laser light.

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