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Lasers and HUDs — BMW takes bike tech to new heights

BMW’s two-wheel section has shown its iteration of laser lights on its K1600GTL concept motorcycle at the ongoing Las Vegas CES.

Laser headlights are already being integrated into mass-produced cars, and can be found in premium products, such as the BMW series 7 and i8 cars.

The double laser on the front of the K1600GTL can reach out as far as 600 metres, twice the range of current headlights.

The pure white light can be directed very precisely, so the risk of blinding incoming drivers or riders is reduced. BMW also says that the laser modules come with no maintenance and a long life, while consuming less energy, too.

Light is generated by projecting a laser beam onto a surface covered with a fluorescent phosphorus compound, which emits a bright, white daylight-like light.


The modules for cars are also 10 times lighter than their LED counterparts, and this means that bikes equipped with such headlights will also benefit from the weight reduction.

BMW admits that, at the moment, the laser headlights are simply too expensive for a production bike – that’s why they only appear on the firm’s priciest cars so far – but economies of scale mean that as production ramps up, laser lights are only going to get cheaper.

BMW also showcased its own HUD helmet at CES “with a view to offering this technology in motorcycle in the future”.



The helmet includes a lens ahead of the rider’s left eye, onto which information such as speed and traffic warnings are projected.

The firm also points out that with the help of forthcoming vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems that BMW is helping to develop as part of a consortium of manufacturers, the HUD could display warnings of unexpected hazards.

Other proposed ideas for the technology include incorporating a rear-view camera into the helmet and using the HUD as a digital rear-view mirror, plus the ability to visualise the positions of other riders in a group, again thanks to V2V.

BMW’s prototype is controlled via buttons on the left hand bar, allowing the display to be switched and the camera system to be turned on and off. The helmet is wireless, and can operate for around five hours before the two replaceable batteries go flat.

The firm says it intends to develop the technology to a production level within the next few years.


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