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Japan Opens Gates for Side-View Cameras

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What do the following three concept vehicles have in common?

G-Code Concept

Mercedes G-Code concept

Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV

Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV

The self-driving Chevrolet-FNR concept debuts at Auto Shanghai 2015

Chevrolet FNR

If you guessed “thin, squinty headlights,” you aren’t wrong, but that isn’t exactly what we meant—if you said “no side mirrors,” then you are right on the money. In concept after concept (especially for electric vehicles), the one modern feature that always seems to have dropped out is that humble pair of side mirrors, we presume to be replaced by cameras of some description. Clearly, automakers see a future where you don’t look at mirrors sticking out of the side of your car to help you navigate, so why haven’t production cars dropped the exterior mirror?

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Well, because that would be illegal. All cars are required by law to have side-view mirrors to help you not run over people as you are backing out (although inside rear-view mirrors are less required, since they came onto the scene later). Besides, for the longest time, video—even digital video—wasn’t very good quality, leading to possible hazards when trying to use them. However, thanks to improvements in quality lately, the UN World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations approved of using cameras instead of mirrors, given that the cameras meet certain criteria, late last year.

And now, Japan has decided that if the automakers are sick of side mirrors, it is sick of them, too, as regulators last month changed the relevant rules to allow camera-based side mirrors.

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This is good news for a number of reasons—bulky side mirrors have long damaged cars’ aerodynamics, which will now be significantly improved. In addition, since the image is captured by a camera, the image can be adjusted to compensate for outside conditions—for example, the camera could compensate for glare or improve visibility at night or low light. Plus, the camera could capture a much wider field of vision, allowing you to get a better view of what is behind the car.

On the other hand, cameras could potentially be obscured by rain or snow, although this is a problem that current mirrors also have. As Japanese suppliers are already gearing up to sell camera hardware to carmakers, it is likely that Japan will soon begin losing the mirrors and picking up the camera.

News Source: Green Car Reports

  • Daniel SuscoEditor

    Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.