BMW has a new testing facility located in a former parts warehouse in Unterschleißheim near Munich, Germany. The so-called Light Channel Next allows the Bavarian company to work on new lighting technologies in a completely controlled environment, which can realistically simulate different conditions and scenarios. It’s currently the longest development tool in the BMW Group.

The Light Channel Next, which sits very close to the company’s Research and Innovation Centre in the north of Munich, measures around 132 metres (433 feet) long and 22 metres (72 feet) wide. The automaker will use the facility for the development of future generations of lighting systems, including headlights, daytime running lights, turn signals, and others. It will be used as a logical next step in the R&D process after computer-aided simulations.

Gallery: BMW Light Channel Next

“For the BMW Group, light is a topic that is constantly gaining in importance. With the new Light Channel Next, we look forward to a future of bringing innovative ideas to the vehicle and the market which will make a lasting impression on customers and enhance road safety”, BMW light expert Christian Jebas explains.

In order to simulate different road scenarios more realistically, the test tunnel features four different surfaces. The central area has an asphalt surface, which has undergone a special surface grinding process to artificially age it. The goal was for the surface to have reflection characteristics that correspond to those of an actual road. There’s also a section with a footpath, as well as another section simulating common underground car park floor coating.

In the light tunnel, BMW can also simulate different lighting conditions at all times of the day. This is helpful during the development of turn indicators and daytime driving lights, which need to be evaluated in daylight. A special daylight wall can generate different light conditions depending on the required luminosity and colour temperature.

The Light Channel Next will begin operation with immediate effect. The focus of the developers will be the integration of highly adaptive headlights. BMW's designers will also be frequent guests at the facility as "the vehicle lights are also a question of aesthetics for all brands in the BMW Group."