First look at BMW's new laser headlights

Not content to simply upstage sealed-beam headlamps that date back to Thomas Edison with LED arrays, BMW has laid out plans to hopscotch over LEDs with laser headlamps. These are the first pictures showing how lasers could some day light the road.

While cars with frikkin' laser beams sounds like a plot device left out of a draft from a mid-80s James Bond movie, BMW says its real motivation is energy conservation; lasers can produce about 70% more light per watt than an LED unit, enough to matter in electric vehicles like the upcoming i8 where every joule is sacred.

As the pictures show, BMW uses a set of bluish lasers beamed through "a flourescent phosphor material" that produces a headlight-like beam of white light. BMW also says the lasers could be used for new lighting tricks — but it also hasn't disclosed how it would solve some key questions, like keeping the beams precisely focused in a car.

Click through the gallery to see just how bright the future may be.

First look at BMW's new laser headlights

First look at BMW's new laser headlights

First look at BMW's new laser headlights

First look at BMW's new laser headlights

First look at BMW's new laser headlights