It’s one of the facets of driving that still seems archaic, especially in an age when we are considering the imminence of self-driving vehicles. How, in 2018, is it possible that we must still strain our necks and take our eyes off the road to change lanes?
For lack of a better response, it seems that we simply have not developed road-ready technology which can safely replace the rear-view and side mirrors. However, that may be about to change.
All the way back in 2014, Jaguar unveiled a concept vehicle which used internal mirrors to eliminate the need for the external ones. When a driver would look to their left or right to detect adjacent vehicles, the internal mirrors would sense the movement and make the ‘pillar’ between the windows transparent, eliminating the blind spot which necessitates side mirrors. While this was impressive, it was far from the end of what was imagined in terms of mirrorless cars.
Mitsubishi’s recent unveiling of a windowless car is more reflective of where the technology is going. The company incorporated cameras which allowed the driver to see its blind spots and rear views through an on-dash screen, and even forward-looking cameras that increase obstacle detection accuracy by anywhere from 14 to 81 percent. The car can even detect different types of obstacles – say, a truck versus a car or animal – through its advanced AI motion-detecting algorithm. Colored rectangles around the obstacles make it easier for the driver to recognize which is what.
BMW also rolled out their own version of the mirrorless car at CES 2016. Their version placed cameras where the side mirrors typically are, and the rearview mirror became a sort of see-all screen that afforded the traditional rearview image as well as the sites that side mirrors normally provide. While it took the test driver some time to get used to, the concept does make sense in terms of limiting the necessary range of head motion while driving.
There’s no doubt that eliminating mirrors in cars while replacing them with cameras is the wave of the future. It not only makes sense from a safety standpoint, but will eventually make the cars more aerodynamic, which is always good news for speed freaks. Still, there’s no doubt that keeping the driver’s eyes on the road to the greatest extent possible is the utmost benefit of this transportation development.