Horse-drawn carriages already had “headlights” - however, from today's perspective, their light could not even be compared to a bicycle light. Carriages often had lamps that were little more than a glass box with a candle. Later - in the early years of automobile construction, there were so-called “carbide lamps”. Their light was generated by the combustion of acetylene gas. (Not really bright either ..)
With the progress and the electrification at the beginning of the 19. In the 19th century, the first headlamps with a "Glühwedel" in the automotive industry. A vacuum-sealed metallic thread was put under tension and its glow felt as "light".
In 1925 a company OSRAM brought a light bulb onto the market that had 2 filaments inside, the Bilux® lamp was born and with it the “high beam” and “low beam” as we know it today.
It was not until 1971 that the - unfortunately - still frequently used H4 lamp from Philips found its way into millions and millions of vehicle headlights.
The next really important step in the development of lighting technology for automobiles was taken by BMW in 1991. Xenon light began its triumphal march in the BMW 7 Series of the E32 series. Today, xenon headlights are no longer uncommon in small vehicle classes.
However, the development does not stop there. Since xenon bulbs became the standard for extremely bright and efficient lighting systems - LED headlights on the front of the vehicle have also been the next step in the development of the ideal car headlights.
Even with the xenon lamp, the possibilities of vehicle front design had risen. The headlight environment, which is reduced by significantly increased light output, gives the vehicle designer greater freedom in design. In addition, the life of the bulbs has grown steadily. And despite more light output, a xenon lamp requires less power than a halogen bulb.
One would think that the “best solution” had already been found - but so-called LED headlights can do everything even better. Even more light output. Even less energy consumption and even more options in the design of the headlights.
With modern LED lighting systems, it is possible to direct the light to where you really need it in front of you on the street. If halogen lamps were required for each lighting scenario (headlights, high beams, fog lights) - the design and technology of LED headlights allow for fully variable light control.
But who now thinks - wow - So LED lights are the goal, so you should deal with the laser light from BMW. As was the case with xenon lights in the 7 Series, BMW is already one step further than others.
In the test department of BMW, I could already assess the system structure of a laser lamp.
The goal of laser light is a further increase in efficiency. Compared to LED headlights, lasers will halve energy consumption for the same light output. Keep in mind that an LED headlight already represents a quantum leap in lighting technology in terms of energy consumption and light output.
In addition, a laser diode is again significantly smaller in its design. The possibilities for design and use in vehicle construction thus increase again.
In addition to the efficiency and the almost limitless designs in headlamp construction, it is above all the subject of safety that promotes constant development.
With the “Dynamic Light Spot” technology, BMW has developed an LED headlight that will be available as an extra in the very near future. In connection with a “night vision system” that is already available from BMW today, it is easier to identify people in the dark. However, this night vision system is only a part - because up to now the outline of the pedestrian has only been shown on a display in the dashboard of the vehicle. This option already warns of people who could be overlooked in the dark on the street, but is not more complex to use and carries the risk of distraction.
BMW therefore invented the Dynamic Light Spot. In the test vehicle, an LED headlight (one on the left and one on the right) was installed in the area of the bumper, where the fog lights used to be - which were controlled by the Night Vision system.
On a dark street with dipped headlights (e.g. due to oncoming traffic), a person would not have been visible at a distance of 50m. The dynamic spotlight, however, illuminates precisely the outline of the pedestrian. It does not blind the oncoming traffic because it is only directed at the detected object and can move with the object. This means that a pedestrian crossing the street - could be kept in view during the entire crossing. No more dark scurrying shadows and the danger of overlooking a pedestrian on dark streets.
The special thing about the BMW system is that the beam of light directed at the pedestrian is visible on the road as a "beam" along the entire route between the car and the pedestrian. The eye of the driver is thus directed to the danger.
What may initially sound like a "gimmick" can really help prevent many fatal accidents at night. Because in the dark we would really only drive as fast as we can see - we should hardly drive faster than 80 km / h. The low beam on the car usually does not go further. With the dynamic light spot from BMW, however, it would be possible to recognize pedestrians on the street, brake them in time or avoid them in good time without dazzling oncoming traffic.
What is still done today with an additional LED headlight can be packaged in the future with the laser light in an intelligent headlight.
The future is pretty bright ... at BMW.