By Ian Bush

VILLANOVA, Pa. (CBS) – Your car’s headlights could be getting a new look.

With lasers, the German automaker BMW is already planning the demise of xenon lamps and LEDs, only now becoming standard over halogen headlights.

BMW says lasers shine a thousand times brighter than current technology.

“The benefit would be higher energy efficiency, so you get more output power for the amount of energy that you’re putting into the laser,” explains Pritpal Singh, professor and chairman of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Villanova University.

singh pritpal villanova side Villanova Prof. Says Laser Technology May Mean Brighter, More Expensive Car Headlights

(Dr. Pritpal Singh.)

Singh (right) says the light from a laser headlamp would be very bright.  But what about all the times we’ve been warned not to look directly at lasers?  BMW says there would be no risk to other drivers, pedestrians, or animals.

“The intensity can be controlled, so it’s not zapping you with a high-focused beam,” explains Singh, so you presumably won’t be able to “set your phasers to stun” to deal with that sluggish driver ahead.

But you might have to reach deeper into your pocket when laser headlights are available in the coming years, Singh notes.

“I think the biggest question would be the cost, because lasers are significantly more expensive than LEDs,” he says.

Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060

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