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Cutting the Dark with Lasers!

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On: Sat, Jan 4, 2014 at 9:20AM | By: Karen Cook

Cutting the Dark with Lasers!

The days of squinting into the darkness while driving at night are nearly gone. With most new cars sporting LED headlights we are able to see farther than ever on those poorly lit rural back roads. Deer and other wildlife are safer than ever and the insurance companies sleep a little easier.

The next big step in nighttime illumination is upon us. (Drum roll, please). Get ready for LASER headlights! Lasers have many benefits over regular LEDs. They are more efficient than LEDs which means they use less energy from the vehicle’s battery to run. This is especially important in electric vehicles when that power can be used for driving. Lasers also shine three times as brightly as LEDS and cast light twice as far. With lasers you can see 1,640 feet (600 meters) in front of you! Even with all this power they are also beneficial to oncoming drivers due to a matrix which focuses the light for maximum power, then diffuses it, causing it to be less blinding than either standard headlights or LEDS.

Besides making navigating at night easier for the driver, the very small size of the laser diodes allow designers greater freedom in creating the shape of the headlights. For now these will be used only for high beams. Standard LEDS will be used for low beams.

Audi is planning to use the new laser technology on the 2014 R18 Le Mans and on the 2014 Sport Quattro which it plans to show at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show this month. At this time they will be a costly add-on option rather than standard. BMW will offer them on its 2015 i8 Hybrid also.

At the time of this writing there is no option for using the laser lights for anything other than illumination, but we can always hope for a future upgrade that will allow their use in “convincing” slower drivers to speed up or get out of the way. A small slice in the rear of the vehicle would cause you to pull over, right?

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