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Transportation Technology

Will Cameras Replace Sideview Mirrors On Cars In 2018? 496

Posted by samzenpus
from the forget-the-blind-spot dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Just the other day we read about how the Department of Transportation will require all manufacturers to include rearview cameras on all new cars produced after May 1, 2018. But there's something else auto manufacturers are pushing for, the ability to replace sideview mirrors with cameras in 2018. Tesla in particular is pushing for this to happen as traditional mirrors are bulky, and not very aerodynamic. That lump of plastic can cause surprising amounts of drag on an otherwise smooth car body. Camera units are much smaller and can be made streamlined, or even mounted nearly flush with the body, thus reducing aerodynamic drag. The idea has been around since the 1990s, and many concept cars have used cameras instead of sideview mirrors for years. But how will NHTSA respond? Is it finally time to ditch the sideview mirror?"
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Will Cameras Replace Sideview Mirrors On Cars In 2018?

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  • Somewhat cheaper... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bob_super (3391281) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:35PM (#46645039)

    When you see the cost of replacing a mirror, it'd be cheaper to have a camera and a 7" screen inside.
    On the other hand, night vision would suffer from having a screen on.

    And I know more than one person who has saved their cars' doors by having the mirror remind them how close they really were to that post...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:40PM (#46645101)

      It won't be cheaper because everyone will have their own vehicles-specific mounts, adapters and enclosures which they will sell at ridiculous rates like every other car part.

    • Unless the cameras have night vision too... like some expensive cars already do. They have a front facing infrared camera and screen on the dashboard. It can pick out heat signatures behind objects like bushes, highlight human shared and temperature objects and calculate their speed and direction to warn you if they're going to cross your path.

    • by sconeu (64226) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @10:11PM (#46645741) Homepage Journal

      I had to replace a side view mirror about 6 months ago. $150.

  • by Derling Whirvish (636322) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:37PM (#46645067) Journal
    What about ditching the windshield and replacing it with a 4k HD screen? Then you can embed the driver lower-down and deep inside a protective hardened shell. A no-glass car all around.
    • Plus augmented reality could let the car alert you to things you might not notice.

    • Like the car Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawk) drove in Daybreakers!
    • Is it finally time to ditch the sideview mirror?

      I love the subtexts of this question...for the above sentence to make sense all three items below must be true:

      > There is an open debate in car design/safety as to wether cameras would be better than mirrors

      > There is an organized effort among many stakeholders that all agree cameras are better than mirrors

      > They have been trying to ditch the sideview mirror for a long time..."finally"

      Lastly...if cameras increase safety...why not have both????

    • by sarysa (1089739)
      If a window breaks, you can still see through it. If a monitor in your tank breaks?

      I'm totally with Tesla that it should be a legal option, but it shouldn't be a requirement to go digital with side view. On one hand, you have the drag...on the other hand, the classic mirrors are less prone to ceasing to function effectively. (smudging/moisture/frost is also a concern, which often renders my rear camera useless -- easily fixed with classic mirrors, and driver's side can wiped off while driving)
      • Re:Why stop there? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Splab (574204) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:22AM (#46646559)

        I live in Copenhagen and drive a bike, I think replacing sideview mirrors with cameras is a horrible idea. If someone is driving around with a broken mirror, I can tell from a long distance, and I will know to be careful around that driver - if he breaks his monitor or camera and don't get it replaced, I will have zero "heads up" about his lack of information.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AikonMGB (1013995)
          How can you spot cars that are long-overdue on having their brakes serviced so that you can be careful around them as well? This is a terrible reason for requiring mirrors on a car. As when driving a car, one riding a bike should always be careful and never rely on other drivers being 100% responsible, regardless of the condition of a vehicle.
          • by Splab (574204)

            You obviously don't bike...

            The mirror is important because that's when the car is interacting with your space - when both parties are going straight, you don't care about their brakes or speed; The time for danger (provided you as a bicyclist actually adhere to the law) is when a car is trying to do a right hand turn - this is when they enter your domain and this is when you are going to get killed (statistically speaking); this should never happen at high speed, nor with malfunctioning brakes (yay for mand

    • Excellent... then we could have more of this when parked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com] (safe for work)

    • by period3 (94751) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @10:01PM (#46645673)

      What about ditching the windshield and replacing it with a 4k HD screen? Then you can embed the driver lower-down and deep inside a protective hardened shell. A no-glass car all around.

      Then how about ditching the wheels, and just simulate movement on the 4K screen. You could drive as fast you want in perfect safety.

      • What about ditching the windshield and replacing it with a 4k HD screen? Then you can embed the driver lower-down and deep inside a protective hardened shell. A no-glass car all around.

        Then how about ditching the wheels, and just simulate movement on the 4K screen. You could drive as fast you want in perfect safety.

        That's more or less what I already do with Amazon. I have ditched the car altogether for most shopping trips and replaced it with a virtual shopping center that has almost everything I need right there on my 24" computer monitor.

    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      When the power drops, and I need to get across X lanes of traffic to the breakdown lane, I'll be glad to have a mirror.

      A driver certainly would want to be encased inside a protective shell if the windshield were replaced with a monitor blocking the view and bringing a whole new meaning to BSOD.

      Of course once self-driving cars hit the successive generations/versions, all bets are off.

      • When the power drops, and I need to get across X lanes of traffic to the breakdown lane, I'll be glad to have a mirror.

        A driver certainly would want to be encased inside a protective shell if the windshield were replaced with a monitor blocking the view and bringing a whole new meaning to BSOD.

        Of course once self-driving cars hit the successive generations/versions, all bets are off.

        The Apollo space capsule didn't have a glass windshield up front and the astronauts managed to get all the way to the moon and back without a BSOD killing them. I think I can handle a trip to my local Piggly Wiggly without one.

  • by confused one (671304) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:37PM (#46645071)
    It might happen, if they can implement it in a way the duplicates the functionality and ease of use of a mirror. The reason it might happen: reduction in drag to improve the manufacturer's chances of meeting the EPA Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements.
  • by tchuladdiass (174342) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:38PM (#46645073) Homepage

    Even if you put the screen up by the window, with a mirror you can always move your head a bit to get a bit more visual context. With a camera and screen, that doesn't work. Unless they also put in head tracking, or use a 3d screen.

    • by radaos (540979)
      A camera based system would also lose the binocular cues of depth, unless it was 3D. I cetrainly don't want to wear stupid 3D glasses when driving, they're bad enough in the cinema.
      • by tokencode (1952944) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:54PM (#46645637)
        This is exactly what I was thinking. A mirror provides both eyes with information, allowing you to gauge depth easily. Depth sensors etc could be used to provide some additional cues, but it is tough to be replace the usefulness of true binocular vision. While my backup camera is great, it definitely is not a replacement for my rearview mirror for this reason.
    • Ever hear of this invention called a zoom lens? You'll be able to adjust you field of view....

      Shazzam!

    • by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:58PM (#46645269)
      The only reason you have to move your head around with a side mirror is because they are placed very close to where your peripheral vision ends. Consequently, if you're sitting facing forward, for a mirror to show the region between where the rearview mirror's view ends (almost straight back) to where your peripheral vision picks up (almost straight to the side), it has to have a very large field of view.

      With a camera, you have the option of mounting it at the front corners of the car instead of by the driver, The display can still be by the driver, but the camera can be way in front. It can then show the same area using a much smaller field of view. The blind spot will still be there, but it'll be pushed out to 2-3 lanes away, making it irrelevant.
      • by khallow (566160)

        The only reason you have to move your head around with a side mirror is because they are placed very close to where your peripheral vision ends.

        I imagine he was speaking of being able to move your head a little more and check the blind spot on that side.

        The blind spot will still be there, but it'll be pushed out to 2-3 lanes away, making it irrelevant.

        Except when you're changing lanes. And we'll see if the blind spot is still there or not. A lot of cars taper in front, meaning there isn't a mount point for such a camera.

        • by mdielmann (514750)

          Put a camera where the sideview mirrors currently are. This gives you the field of view of the outside edge of the mirror, rather than mostly in the middle. Given the right alignment, it will see everything you can by moving your head around. Put two cameras there, and you can even put a "fish-eye mirror" view in part of the field of view, and have more perspective than you'd ever normally have.

          Another option is to put the cameras on the roof, near where the windshield meets the roof. This could be done

        • by AK Marc (707885)

          A lot of cars taper in front, meaning there isn't a mount point for such a camera.

          No, almost no cars taper in the front. There isn't a modern car that exposes the tires to the air, so at "worst" the camera could be in front of the front tires, which is a good distance forward of the "standard" placement for most cars.

          There was a fad for a while to move the mirrors as far forward as possible such as http://images.johnnycupcakes.c... [johnnycupcakes.com]

          Those have smaller blind spots because the better angle. That would be a better place to put the camera than by the door. But it was placed by the door b

      • by Qzukk (229616)

        It's been shown that curved side view mirrors can almost completely eliminate the blind spots [nytimes.com], but the NHTSA dictates what size and shape your mirrors are.

        Personally, I'd rather keep the side view mirrors and use the camera to eliminate the big rear view mirror placed right in the center of my windscreen. These are almost always placed for midgets, at my height it completely obstructs the right half of my field of view (If I pull up to a four way stop, any vehicle stopped at the sign to my right is complet

    • by sootman (158191)

      > Even if you put the screen up by the window, with
      > a mirror you can always move your head a bit to
      > get a bit more visual context.

      What if the camera let you see 3x more in the first place? You wouldn't need to adjust your field of view.

  • It's not broken. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So why do I need a camera? This is a classic case of over-engineering a simple, solved problem. Rear and side view mirrors have an extremely low failure rate, and require no power.

    • Rear view mirrors don't let you see the space obscured by the trunk, and side view mirrors cost $$$ due to aerodynamic drag.

      I love the idea because I think I'll get a wider field of view and better nighttime rear vision.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Back when the aptera was a possibility, they removed the mirrors in favor of camera for the aerodynamic gains. (Aptera was a very aerodynamic car so the gains were real). Unfortunately, state laws didn't allow it everywhere, so they had to put them back on.

      Also, mirrors aren't that simple. Even in many low end cars, they have electronics to move them around in the meantime for the driver and I'm it can break. Mirror themselves often are poorly made and lose their finish (see this on vans and the like).

      S

    • by PPH (736903)

      side view mirrors have an extremely low failure rate,

      Not so, judging by the number of side view mirrors I see hanging from car doors.

      and require no power.

      Some do. For pan/tilt motors and defrost heaters. That's why the mirrors have some wires to hang by when they get whacked*.

      *Why are there still a few manufacturers who haven't figured out the swing-away side mirror mechanisms?

  • What about aircraft? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Derling Whirvish (636322) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:41PM (#46645103) Journal
    I always wondered why aircraft don't have embedded cameras all around. One to observe the landing gear, one pointed at the tail rudder, one for each engine, one for the ailerons/flaps etc. No more guessing what is going on based on instrumentation and sending a crewman to look out the window to see if he can spot the problem. Easier to detect icing, snow load on the wing while on the runway, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bobberly (1677220)
      Because no one wants to invest in the amount of research and testing required to get a part certified by the FAA. All it takes is one aircraft to crash because of "smoke in the cockpit" from one of these devices to end them. Technically, I could face penalties for unauthorized aircraft modifications for attaching my GoPro to the wing.
    • by evilad (87480)

      By the time you certified your system of a $5 CCD and a $30 LCD for aviation use, you'd have to sell it for $15,000 to make a profit. You can't install ANY equipment on a certificated aircraft that isn't certified.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Not true. I've seen uncertified cameras mounted in small (certified) aircraft all the time. They aren't "used" in flight, but are "installed" with a permanent mount.
        • by Alioth (221270)

          And if the FAA ramp checked you (and the FAA inspector's motto is "We're not happy until you're not happy"), and decided it was an unauthorized modification, they could ruin your day dragging you through an expensive prosecution in court.

          Yes, people who own small aircraft often do it and will usually get away with it (in many cases it won't count as a modification, a camera with a suction cup on the windscreen and powered off its own battery or the cigarette lighter connection isn't considered a modificatio

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:27PM (#46645493) Homepage

      Airliners do have external cameras, mainly for taxiing (on some airliners the pilot is seated forward of the nose wheel and if you're in a tight spot it is very useful to actually be able to see under the plane and be able to just barely cut corners near the edges of the taxiways. Having cameras pointed at control surfaces isn't actually a bad idea, but they do have servos on them and their positions can be displayed in the cockpit.

    • by caseih (160668) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:56PM (#46646261)

      Many Airbus planes do have some cameras that the pilots can use. Usually in the tail. I was on a 777 recently that had at least 3 cameras that you could view via the inflight entertainment system. Was very cool.

  • In a tight economy, side cameras will only sell if they are a. manditory on all new models, or. b. not marked up at the same exorbitant rate as side mirrors. If the industry cintents itself with a replacement price that's not much more than for conventional mirrors, this could work, but what I expect is a scenario more like this.

    1. Car companies decide that the lower profile possible means fewer side viewers will be hit in accidents, so they will see fewer replacements.
    2. Since they won't see as much sales

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      In a tight economy, side cameras will only sell if they are a. manditory on all new models, or. b. not marked up at the same exorbitant rate as side mirrors.

      Actually, one of the reasons for having cameras is that they can boost fuel economy. With CAFE requirements that means that manufacturers can sell more SUVs and stay under the limits. So, there is plenty of incentive to put reasonably-priced cameras on cars, if not make them standard.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      6. Chrysler will sell the Neon as a "truck" for $2000 savings on CAFE and $3000 savings on cameras (the Neon truck is called PT Cruiser).
  • by Tex Bravado (91447) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:11PM (#46645373)

    That's all I'm looking at, anyway.

  • by swb (14022) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:12PM (#46645383)

    The advantage of side view mirrors from a situational awareness perspective is that you can check the entire side of your car from front to back very quickly because the whole view is there. Blind spot indicators solve the problem of blind spots (mostly..). Side view mirrors may take away from aerodynamics but they're a very convenient place to look.

    A camera image could be nice (night vision, variable view angle, etc), but it seems a downgrade from a safety perspective to use a center console display because it causes you to look away from the side of the car.

    Maybe they'd mount mirror-size displays in the dash against the doors? Sounds kind of expensive for any usable resolution and brightness and maybe even distracting, especially at night. Perhaps the displays could have a secondary function or overlay (distance to largest and maybe bonus points for being hackable to display some other display.

    Displaying a heads-up type display on the windshield? Some kind of perspective-corrected or floats-outside-the-car-like-a-real-mirror image on the side windows (useless if the windows are rolled down, though).

    A rearview mirror option might not be a bad idea because it would then be a complete "behind you" image, but how big could it be without making the rearview mirror into a head-injury risk?

  • Oh, my, two more things to fail at the most inopportune moments. So is this going to increase the cost of the cars too?

    On the other hand, the benefit is a better wind profile so better gas mileage. Should that be kilometerage by now? *sign*

  • by jgotts (2785)

    It will add $150 to the cost of the car, but when it fails the dealership will charge $500 for the same part plus labor to replace it.

    • That's comparable to the dealer price (parts and labor) to replace a color matched side view mirror with remote.
  • by Trogre (513942) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:44PM (#46645593) Homepage

    Just as soon as camera/screen pairs have the parallax of a mirror and the dynamic range approaching anywhere near reality.

    In other words, not for a long time.

  • I think they should do both and get the best of both worlds.
  • Fresnel lens (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Trogre (513942)

    Not that it's necessarily the best for every single application, but I find a 15cm square fresnel lens stuck to my rear windscreen gives a much better picture than any camera system I have ever used:

    The dynamic range is practically the same as through the glass, so no squinting at nearly-black screens in summer time or having eyes burned out at night.
    The picture is on the actual windscreen, so I don't need to take my eyes off the "road" when reversing, or the rearview mirror to see what's behind me.
    The focu

  • I'd really like to know how they would address the removal of ice/snow/slush that we see in the winter in Canada/Northern US. And how much light would the screen emit at night, potentially blinding the driver. So many questions, so little answers.

  • What. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kuroji (990107) <kuroji@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:39PM (#46646205)

    This idea is dumb and you should feel dumb for even considering it.

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