Engineers have long searched for a better solution to side view mirrors,
which many view as ugly, aerodynamically inefficient, and prone to creating
blind spots. As a solution to this problem, automotive parts supplier
Continental Automotive Systems has created “digital mirrors”
that replace traditional side view mirrors with cameras. Not only does
this innovation improve the look of the vehicle, it also could reduce
carbon dioxide emissions because of reduced drag and improved fuel economy.
The new design will also cut down on noise and increase the driver’s
field of view.
Thumb-sized video cameras placed on the exterior of the vehicle would deliver
images of what is next to and behind the car onto interior screens placed
on either end of the dashboard. The camera views are wider than what is
currently viewable in a mirror and would completely eliminate blind spots.
The cameras will be adjustable to increase brightness at night or reduce
glare in bright sunlight. Further advances may also be able to link what
is picked up by cameras to other systems like parking, collision, and
automatic braking systems.
While this innovation has many potential benefits, drivers used to performing
shoulder checks will require training and practice with the new system.
However, having a single panoramic view video may still be an improvement
over cars that combine outdated traditional side mirrors with rearview
camera technology. While there are no definitive studies of side cameras,
rearview cameras provide a precedent and have been deemed a significant
safety improvement. In fact, they will be mandatory in light trucks and
cars in the U.S. by 2018.
Road testing of mirrorless systems is expected to begin in Europe this
year, followed by testing in Asia. The supplier hopes that the U.S. will
End of the Road May Be Near for Side Mirrors
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