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U.S. to Test Camera-based Systems That Replace Traditional Glass Mirrors in Autos

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【Summary】On Tuesday, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it plans to test how drivers could use cameras to replace traditional rearview mirrors in automobiles. The test comes as automakers are investing in new technology and autonomous driving.

Eric Walz    Aug 28, 2019 11:05 AM PT
U.S. to Test Camera-based Systems That Replace Traditional Glass Mirrors in Autos
The side-view camera on the Lexus ES sedan.

As automotive technology progresses to include semi-autonomous driving, drive-by-wire systems and vehicles with internet connectivity, one thing that has been around since the invention of the automobile are traditional glass rear and side view mirrors to assist the driver.

While some automakers like Honda, Audi and Mercedes Benz have already developed these types of camera-based systems that replace glass mirror with small electronic screens showing a live feed from vehicle-mounted HD cameras, the technology that can improve safety is surprisingly not approved in the U.S., but that may change soon.

On Tuesday, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it plans to test how drivers could use cameras to replace traditional rearview mirrors in automobiles. The test comes as automakers are investing in new technology and autonomous driving.

The technology is already approved in Europe and Japan.

The planned test by the agency would study "driving behavior and lane change maneuver execution" in cars with traditional mirrors and camera-based visibility systems, the department said in a notice, which offered the public a chance to comment.

Mirrorless systems are "an example of where automotive technology is ahead of the legislative curve" in the United States, said Mark Dahncke to Reuters, an Audi of America spokesman.

The side-view camera feed is fed to small monitors inside the car which are mounted on the vehicle's A pillars within view of the driver. Just like traditional glass mirrors, the cameras can be adjusted to a driver's preferences.

auto2.jpg

Digital "mirrors" can be combined with GPS and object detection for added safety.

In March 2014, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers trade group representing General Motors, Lexus, Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp and others, petitioned NHTSA to use camera-based rear or side-vision systems, which have the potential to improve visibility and safety.

Last year, Toyota's luxury division Lexus Lexus claimed that the digital cameras enhance driver's visibility and therefore overall safety.

The incorporation of digital cameras can also be used to improve aerodynamics and fuel economy. And since they are less bulky than glass mirror housings, the digital mirrors reduce the wind noise substantially, leading to a quieter cabin experience for passengers.

Toyota's new digital mirrors first debuted in the 2019 Lexus ES sedan, but the option is not available for U.S. customers. Lexus was followed by Volkswagen, which will begin selling its Audi e-tron electric SUV with cameras in place of side mirrors in Europe.

In 2015, Daimler Trucks sought approval to use cameras use instead of rearview mirrors in its heavy-duty trucks. However, those petitions are still pending.

The NHTSA said in a report last year it was still studying the issue. The new testing would initially focus on passenger vehicles and later on larger vehicles.

Automakers have already added front and rear cameras to assist with maneuvers like parking, but some are now adding side cameras to provide visibility without traditional mirrors in other markets. 

2016-Cadillac-CT6_RearviewMIrror_TA.jpg

Cadillac's digital rearview mirror was offered on the 2016 CTS.

In May 2018, the NHTSA mandated the use of back-up cameras in all new vehicles sold in the U.S., but side-facing mirrors are not required.

Honda Motor Co will have the technology standard on its upcoming electric Honda e when the model goes on sale in Europe later this year or early next year, a spokeswoman said to Reuters.

Tesla said in October it had made all eight external cameras on its Model S, Model X and Model 3 cars active, providing a "360-degree visualization of surrounding vehicles," though the cars still have traditional mirrors.

The new digital mirrors have been one of the most requested new car features from consumers. According to J.D.Power's annual U.S. Tech Choice Study, the digital mirror/camera systems are one of the most desired new technologies for car buyers.

Cadillac, which first debuted its digital rearview mirror on the CT6 sedan in 2016, says digital rearview mirrors provide 300% more vision than a standard mirror.

resource from: Reuters

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