Beemer bikes go laser lights – with helmet head-up visor

Image: BMW Mptorrad
BEST-TECH BIKE IN THE WORLD? This is the BMW K1600 GTL concept kitted out with laser lights and on display at the 2016 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. Image: BMW Motorrad


MUNICH, Germany – BMW Motorrad will have two innovations at the annual Consumer Electronics Show that wil open today (Jan 6 2016) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Neither is ‘new technology’ but the likelihood of each becoming common on upmarket motorcycles is kind of radical – in fact, as a no-car, bike-only guy I’d love to have both.

The German bikemaker will show its first laser headlights and a crash-helmet with what, on a car, is called ‘a head-up display’ – removing the need for the many seconds/minute that a biker loses of the road while glancing down at instruments out of his/her line of riding sight. A mis-timed glance could mean a fatal collision…

HIGH-TECH LASERS FOR BIKES: On display at the Las Vegas show. Image: BMW Motorrad

BMW says both technologies may (let’s hope they mean ‘will’) be employed in future series models. The one one show in Vegas is BMW K1600 GTL concept machine with BMW Motorrad laser lights. The bikemaker told The Corner is a media release:

“See-and-be-seen has always been a central axiom of safe motorcycling which is why BMW Motorrad has long been dedicated developing and optimising our motorcycle lighting units, “the bikemaker said.

“This has seen the introduction of adaptive headlights for riding on curving roads, diode daytime running lights and dynamic brake lights (harder you brake, brighter they flash) on BMW motorcycles.

“Often the development was able to benefit from synergy effects with BMW automobiles.”

The BMW Motorrad laser lights have been adapted from those already on BMW cars such as the 7 Series and the revolutionary i8 electric sports car.

“Not only do laser light headlights generate a particularly bright, pure-white, light,” BMW says. “They can also achieve a high-beam range of as far as 600 metres, twice that of conventional headlights… the safety benefit, especially for a motorcycle, is obvious.”

Laser lights also claim to be far more durable than conventional globes.

SEING THE LIGHT: Image: BMW Motorrad
SEEING THE LIGHT: How would YOU llke a motorcycle with a headlight that can illuminate the road for 500m ahead? Image: BMW Motorrad

The K1600 GTL concept is being used for feasibility tests; other models will, over time, also be tested with the lasers.

For now, BMW Motorrad explained to The Corner, the technology is still too cost-intensive for motorcycles. However ‘economies of scale’ resulting
from large-scale use in the automobile industry will reduce prices. The Corner says they can’t come soon enough….

On to the crash-helmet head-up display…

Undistracted eyes-on-the-road is something bikers have needed since the first powered two-wheelers appeared in Germany thanks to the imagination of inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach way back in 1885 but it was only in 2003 that BMW made such a miracle possible on a European automobile – it was called a ‘head-up’ display and was first used, The Corner believes, in warplanes back in the 1960’s.

The very first car application, however, came from General Motors in the US back in 1988 in an Oldsmobile Cutlass.

SECOND SIGHT? Well, certainly a second mini-visor that doubles as being able to display road data as a head-up display. Image: BMW Motorrad
SECOND SIGHT? Well, certainly a second mini-visor that doubles as being able to display road data as a head-up display. Image: BMW Motorrad

The tech being shown in Vegas projects road and other selected data from a tiny projector inside the Motorrad crash helmet on to a small second visor that can be flipped down in front of the rider’s right eye (see illustration); The Corner hopes that, as on a car, the letters and digits will appear to float in the air ahead of the helmet’s standard visor.

No more will the rider have to take eyes of the road to check speed, fuel range etc. In fact BMW says the display can be programmed to show tyre pressures, oil and fuel levels, road speed, selected gear, speed limits and road signs. Further possibilities are miniature cameras to give a 360-degree road view – particularly useful when riding in a group.

One would also expect real-time satnav to be included. Also likely is a forward-looking camera… and BMW says the system should be available for retro-fit to existing (often very expensive!) crash helmets.

Two replaceable batteries, BMW says, will give about five hours of operation.
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