BMW LIGHT DAYS WORKSHOP
Last night we at BIMMERPOST were invited to test the new headlight features of current BMW models and also to take a look into the future of BMW lighting at BMW's Light Days Workshop. We share the info and experience with you below.
To start, BMW AG gave us a little history of BMW headlight design on past BMW models. BMW has been using the double round headlights since 1963 on the e3 and e9 models. In 1990 BMW was the first in production to offer xenon headlamps for the e34 and e38 models.
Starting with the e39 BMW introduced Angel Eye (Corona) rings. These rings serve two purposes - as DRL (daytime running lamps) and for styling. They makes a BMW instantly recognizable at night and in daylight. They have become a BMW icon.
Back in the 1990's BMW started to play around with the so-called "L" tail light design (on the e32 and e34). The lights looked nice in daylight, but the engineers were unhappy with the night time profile of the tail lights. This led to LED tube designs on the e39 and later models. Even on today's BMW models, you often see this L-design of the rear lights. The image shown also gives us a preview of the OLED lights expected to be equipped on BMWs within 3 years.
BMW is committed to Active Safety at Night. BMW has found, through its research at various universities in Germany - that while day time accident rates have fallen steadily throughout the last decade, accident rates at night have remained the same. BMW wants to make driving at night as safe as it is during the day. One solution is through the use of high beams.
Most drivers only use their high beams 2% of the time, but when a car has automatic high beam assist, BMW found usage shoots up to 17%. Clearly, if the car can decide when to turn on the high beams without blinding oncoming drivers or drivers in front of you, it would be a win-win situation. Now with the advent of BMW's Selective Beam Assist
, we can have high beams that automatically dim only parts of the road that are needed (where other drivers are) while still providing bright light for the surrounding areas of a dark road (see video demo below). Not only is this safer for the driver, but the driver is more relaxed driving at night with this system.
Another cool feature of the NIVI (night vision) warning system is when it detects a pedestrian or animal - and you hear the audible warning chime... the system will automatically press the brake pads close to the rotors and "prime" the braking system. THEN if the driver goes for the brake pedal after this NIVI chime... the car's ABS system will deploy FULL braking force even though the drive is not pressing all the way down on the brake pedal. The driver still must use the brakes in a semi panic stop... but the car's ABS will deploy full braking force - until the driver releases the brakes. That's quite cool and something new (as of production from April/2014). The car WILL NOT automatically brake for you. The driver still must be a DRIVER.
The Selective Beam Assist works in connection with the Nivi (Night Vision) system. The current Nivi system can recognize people and animals - way before you can even see them with your headlights. When the Nivi system sees a potential risk it alerts the driver with a warning tone. If the car has a HUD (heads up display) an animal or person icon will also appear. The system will also show which side of the road the animal or person is coming from. The Nivi system works off of heat signature.
The benefits of BMW Laserlights at a glance:
– BMW Laserlights to feature in a production model for the first time from autumn 2014.
– Luminous intensity 10 times greater than that of traditional light sources.
– High beam range of up to 600 metres is double that of conventional headlights.
– Takes up extremely little space and only needs a very small reflector, resulting in significant weight-saving potential.
– Excellent efficiency thanks to a 30 per cent reduction in energy consumption.
– Compact construction opens up new scope for design idiom.
– Flat design lends itself to optimum aerodynamics.
– Laser beams are transformed into intense, white light offering maximum safety.
– Long lasting and highly reliable, even under extreme conditions.
The BMW i8
brings the future of cars to buyers of today. Not only is the i8 breaking the mold for its hybrid technology but also for its headlight technology. The i8 will be the first production car to feature laser lights for the highbeams. The i8 actually has three light outputs: LED lowbeam, LED highbeam, and then LED + Laserbooster highbeams. With the laser light system, one can see for at least 600 meters (0.37 miles). It really is fantastic looking system in person. These laser lights will make other car's high beams look like 6 volt headlamps. It really is THAT striking. The i8 test cars' headlamps had manual control over the headlights for our demonstration purposes. But, on production i8's the headlights will work entirely automatically. The i8 will know when to use low, middle and high (laserbeam) lights. BMW has also taken great strides in designing a small laser light package.
Even in the event of a crash, the blue laser light will not blind anyone. In fact it's been designed so that the laser light can not hurt anyone in an accident nor in when the car is in for service. That is a fail safe of the system. And the entire laser light engine is no bigger than a pack of cigarettes. An interesting side bit - the table model shown to us (pictured above) was used at a trade show so it was purposely made larger to throw off competitors.
BMW representatives told us that the production i8 laser power engine is much smaller. And they have already begun working on a 2nd generation laser light for future BMW models.
THE FUTURE - OLED
Organic LED (OLED): This is the new cutting edge in lighting. OLEDs are made from organic semiconductor material and allow the designers much more freedom in their designs. Compared to the inorganic material already used in LEDs in standard production vehicles, the application of OLEDS in BMW Organic Light promises a range of benefits. Because of the design as a thin-layered element, for example, it is possible to produce very thin, flexible displays for smartphones or even lighting units for motor vehicles.
BMW Organic Light permits a lamp unit to be created whose luminous intensity is almost constant across the entire radiant angle (does not suffer from the LED effect where LED lamps seem less bright to the eye the more it is seen from the side).
BMW says this technology is only three years away from being used in a production car. It's clearly not far from production as they had working OLED tail light units on hand (see pics below). Not only do OLED look great but it uses very little power/energy. They can also serve as active tail lights - the intensity can change as well as the light pattern. Even different colors are possible (the mock up models that were shown to us were only in red OLEDs). We did get to see a BMW touring bike with yellow turn signals and red brake light. This OLED technology is not so close to production for motorcycles - yet. We will first see it on a BMW car before the bikes get them.
BMW is still working on improving the luminous density of the OLEDs. While it's currently adequate for tail lights, lighting elements like the brake light or indicator need reinforcing.