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Transportation Technology

Will Cameras Replace Sideview Mirrors On Cars In 2018? 496

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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  • 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.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:39PM (#46645087)

    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.

  • Re:nope! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:39PM (#46645091) Journal

    Sideview mirrors let you see places a rearview camera won't.

    That doesn't make sense at all.

    You can point a camera anywhere you want, they'd be far more versatile than mirrors, and car makers will be certain to take advantage of that. You'll most likely get multiple cameras, stitched views, and more coverage, not less

    I'd be happy just to get a good rearview camera on my motorbike. All I get to see in the mirrors are my elbows...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:45PM (#46645149)

    You'd have to be a contortionist to check your blind spot, which is what your side-view mirror is meant to expose. You sir are a shitty driver.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:48PM (#46645177)

    A car is a place I value simplicity and reliability over features. If a camera fails on the road, people can die.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:03PM (#46645309)


    Is that what happens when you run into something while adjusting the zoom on your side camera?

  • Re:nope! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:07PM (#46645337)

    If I think there might be something just out of my field of view in a mirror, I can lean slightly to change the angle. That doesn't work with cameras. Not necessarily a problem, but the engineers will need to find a way to cover all of the necessary angles without taking up too much space on the dashboard. I absolutely do not want to hit any buttons to pan the camera while driving.

  • 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?

  • Re:nope! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:55PM (#46645639)

    If I think there might be something just out of my field of view in a mirror, I can lean slightly to change the angle

    And with the cameras, you could move them, rather than moving your head.

    I absolutely do not want to hit any buttons to pan the camera while driving.

    But swinging your head wildly because your mirrors are poorly set is a good thing? They could make the camera screens mimic mirrors, but that would add complexity and cost for a few people who can't be bothered to adjust a camera if they want to see where it isn't pointed.

    I think they should replace the rear-view mirror with a 180 degree "mirror" that's a real-time composite of around the car, like a convex rearview mirror, but without pillar reflections and such in the way. That's the closest to today's operation that makes sense to me. And with that, you'll *never* have something you need to move your head for.

  • Re:nope! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grep -v '.*' * ( 780312 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @10:05PM (#46645699)

    You can point a camera anywhere you want, they'd be far more versatile than mirrors, ... You'll most likely get multiple cameras, stitched views, and more coverage, not less

    Really? I've had a stitched view [] for over a decade [] now. (PDF []) It takes no power or extra equipment and I can see what's in the adjacent lanes behind me.

    True, I have to glance at one non-adjacent sensor to another, but then again the road is still visible around me -- if something happens in front I already have a slight visual and can immediately lock and focus on it. (Then again, in high school driving class they taught us to continually scan our surrounding, check our mirrors, as well as maintain a "space cushion" around the car.)

    Oh, and a spot of dirt or water (wherever might THAT come from?) will obscure that entire mirror as opposed to just being an inconvenience.

    Ever had to scrape off a mirror from the accumulated snow / ice / fog? THAT'll be easy to do on the camera lens as well, I'm sure.

    Then again there's be some idiot that will reconnect the camera inputs to watch TV, never mind being slightly night-blind from the always-on slight blue glow from the camera display. Or did you want to use B/W LCDs?

    Mandate this in all new cars? Well if that's what you want. Personally I'll be out buying a glass cutting kit and a lot of superglue while re-positioning the camera to get an upskirt picture [] of the car next to me.

  • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @10:07PM (#46645711)
    And you also won't be able to judge depth for farther objects by subconsciously bobbing your head back and forth to increase stereo baseline, as you're apt to do without even realizing it when you have a mirror.
  • Re:nope! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @10:17PM (#46645767)

    You're greatly exaggerating with "swinging your head wildly" in response to the OP's post. I learned to drive with and always have my mirrors splayed out to cover my blind spots rather than the end of my own car (as is recommended by many driving experts). However, given the size of the mirrors, I still have a tiny blind spot that's the perfect fit for a motorcycle who's riding too close to my lane and hugging my rear quarter panel. A slight tilt of my head and I can clear that spot. It's not necessary when regularly scanning the road to keep track of traffic, but I always do it before I change lanes just in case.

    Contrast that with 90% of folks who have their mirrors turned to watch their own gas caps, and have to fully turn their heads to check their much larger blind spots before changing lanes. That's the "swinging wildly" bit that's more dangerous.

    I don't have any issues with your 180 degree mirror idea, other than that it would take time to adapt to it. Drivers that start with it would likely be fine.

  • Re:nope! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @10:46PM (#46645915) Journal

    Windshields also. They can see outside with the cameras going to their iPhone, which is what they are looking at anyway while the driver is texting.

  • What. (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

  • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:12AM (#46646859)

    I think you misunderstand...

    The mirrors are legally required, they can already do cameras, but they can't remove the mirrors legally.

    What they are asking for is the ability to do so.

    You can still put mirrors on and I can see some cars like the Wrangler still having them for just the reason you offer.

    But most cars don't need them, cameras make more sense.

  • Re:nope! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:51AM (#46646921) Homepage Journal

    Agree ... do not want. One more thing to go wrong, and then you're looking at an expensive repair rather than something you could take care of yourself, just to keep the car legal.

    I'd probably have an easier time replacing a camera than may side mirrors.

    Besides, I had the driver side mirror taken out by a deer, and it was over a hundred to replace! Now consider how many vehicles on the road today have those fancy turn signals on their side mirrors, that's gotta raise the price a bit.

    Plus people are used to looking over there to see what's behind them, it could cause all kinds of distraction trying to switch the dashboard TV set between navigation mode and rear view mode. Keep focused on getting the weight of the battery pack down instead.

    1. Reducing the drag would probably save more fuel than reducing battery weight(unless you REALLY reduce that weight).
    2. The views replacing the side mirrors would probably be on dedicated panels that are active at all times while driving.

  • Re:nope! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by profplump ( 309017 ) <> on Thursday April 03, 2014 @04:13AM (#46646989)

    The change in view with the change in angle of incidence is one the *problems* with existing mirrors. A camera could be permanently fixed to view exactly the right area, whereas mirrors need to be properly adjusted for each driver, and don't work correctly if you move your head even a little.

    Plus it's video -- you can take multiple images and stitch them together (or display multiple views in a single location, as is common in side mirrors in larger vehicles) and you're not limited to the vantage point of the traditional mirror. For example, a combination of a side-rear looking camera from near the driver's position and a side-looking camera from near the back of the car -- and both could be mounted up high, rather than below the window line -- would provide better field-of-view than virtually any existing side view mirror.

    Plus no reflected headlights/sun. Heck, with high camera mounting points you can significantly reduce the possibility even of shining a headlight into the camera, let alone blinding the driver.

    And of course once you've put a sensor pod on the side of the car and a display in the dash, adding things like ultrasonic proximity detection become much cheaper and easier to integrate into existing driving methodologies.

  • Re:Why stop there? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AikonMGB ( 1013995 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:10AM (#46647777) Homepage
    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.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright