This BMW Has Frickin' Laser Beams For Headlights

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It’s not a shark with a laser beam on its head, but the new BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car will offer laser headlights in late 2014.

The carmaker says the i8 will be the first production application of laser headlamps on a car. The system is quite complex and is only available for high-beam use, according to BMW. Low-beam lights will continue to use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to project light on the road.

BMW says the laser headlights produce two times the visibility range of conventional high-beam headlights, while using less energy -- energy that can instead be used by the car’s electric motor for additional driving range or power.

Howstuffworks explains how BMW's laser system manages to illuminate the road without harming the retinas of other drivers and passersby:

What happens with each light is that three blue lasers positioned at the rear of the assembly fire onto a set of mirrors closer to the front. Those mirrors focus the laser energy into a lens filled with yellow phosphorus. The yellow phosphorus, when excited by the blue laser, emits an intense white light. That white light shines backward, onto a reflector. The reflector then bounces the more diffused white light forward, shining it out of the front of the headlight casing as a beam that is powerful, yet still able to be gazed upon.

The Huffington Post reached out to BMW to find out how much the optional laser headlights will cost on the i8, as well as to find out if and when other models may receive this technology, but did not receive an immediate response.

According to the carmaker's website, the i8 will go from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, while burning fuel at a rate of up to 94 mpg. The sports coupe will also be able to travel up to 22 miles on electric power alone and will have a base price of $135,700.

To learn more about the car’s laser headlight system, watch BMW's video above.

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