Traditional spark plugs could someday soon be replaced by lasers. This isn't science fiction but rather the latest innovation to up the efficiency of internal combustion engines. While many car companies, engineers and even governments around the world are focused on electrics and hybrids, many still think the future lies with traditionally powered vehicles that are hyper efficient. $5 a gallon doesn't mean much when your car gets 80mpg. These laser plugs do not offer that kind of efficiency on their own but when combined with a multitude of super-efficient components it is certainly possible.
The lasers work to reduce pollutants and raise fuel burn efficiency by igniting more of the fuel/air mixture than is possible by traditional spark plugs that burn only the gasses nearest the plug gap. They also erode over time due to this combustion but lasers would not suffer this fate.
This isn't the first time the concept has been put forth, but before now the laser systems were much to large to situate within the engine bay of a normal road car.