By on April 1, 2014

Tesla Model X Concept

Should Tesla and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — including General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen — be successful in their petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, new cars could soon have cameras instead of side mirrors.

Automotive News reports the petition — on the heels of the agency mandating rearview cameras by 2018 in all light-duty vehicles — explains cameras could do the same job as mirrors while allowing for increased aerodynamics:

In light of future greenhouse gas and corporate average fuel economy requirements beginning in 2017, camera-based systems represent an opportunity to increase vehicle fuel efficiency through improved aerodynamics by eliminating externally mounted mirrors.

Current regulations place cameras as a supplement to side mirrors, with Nissan, Honda and Mercedes-Benz offering such systems, while Volkswagen’s XL1 is one of a few vehicles to do away with mirrors by using cameras in their stead.

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118 Comments on “Tesla Leads Charge To Replace Side Mirrors With Cameras...”


  • avatar
    hreardon

    I’ve got no problem with advancements like this, but I’m curious as to how much of an improvement in aerodynamics this would bring.

    I expect that one of the biggest improvements would come in the reduction of wind noise.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      It’s a small difference, but significant.

      — Begin crazy hypothesis —
      Remember the bug eye headlights from a few years ago? The engineers working on the Nissan Leaf realized late in the program that they could make a little aerodynamic hack that would redirect the slipstream around the side mirrors. The headlights were easy to change, so they reshaped the headlights, giving the Leaf that signature bug eyed catfish look as a side effect.

      Shortly afterward, all of the Japanese cars had bug-eyed headlights, likely for the same reason.

      Now, the bug eyed headlights have gone away and have been replaced by much nicer grooves in the hood, which appear to serve the same purpose.

      I bet even a small crosswind kills half of the advantage.
      — end crazy hypothesis —

      In any case, if you look at the headlights and hood of the car, and imagine the aerodynamic flow over the front of a commuter sedan made in the last 5 years, you’ll see that working around the aerodynamics of the mirrors has an impact on the design of the car. I can see why the car companies are arguing to get the rule changed – cameras would be smaller lighter and simpler.

      On the other hand, the nostalgia market will probably just take the 1-5% MPG hit and get on with life.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Oh, and don’t forget the stick-on accessory market. There will be people who buy chromed fake mirrors to stick on the sides of their car–often in the wrong place & at the wrong angles.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Nah — at highway speeds, that boundary layer’s pretty sticky. It would take a pretty significant crosswind to disrupt it.

      • 0 avatar

        > In any case, if you look at the headlights and hood of the car, and imagine the aerodynamic flow over the front of a commuter sedan made in the last 5 years, you’ll see that working around the aerodynamics of the mirrors has an impact on the design of the car.

        Is this predicated on cfd or just random guessing?

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Random guessing at the origin of the shape on my part.

          I made my living supporting computers used for CFD, FEA, and general science/engineering simulations for 9 years, so my random guesses are likely a bit less random that average. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re guesses.

          To be explicit: the above hypothesis combines my own guesswork with rumors from the Internet and staring at a crop of funny looking bug-eyed cars which started showing up in parking lots.

          It’s just a random guess. I don’t have any inside knowledge of actual CFD results to back it up.

          P.S. If you want a 30 day trial of an easy to use desktop multiphysics package to try it, though, I can recommend COMSOL (formerly FEMLab), which includes CFD. I can’t help with generating the mesh, or picking the simulation complexity, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Your comment on the wind noise alone demonstrates that there would be some aerodynamic effect. That wind noise represents turbulence that creates drag.

    • 0 avatar

      > but I’m curious as to how much of an improvement in aerodynamics this would bring.

      A mirror has Cd akin to a bullet maybe ~.3-.4, or similar to most cars. Compare the frontal area of the mirrors in contrast to the rest of it.

      edit: Of course it’s possible to design a flat mirror for aesthetics with Cd ~1, but let’s leave the pedantics to the “engineers” here.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        I love the way some people accuse others of pulling boundary layer comments out without using CFD results to back it up; then proceed to state something that is factually wrong; with obviously no data to support it.

        A typical bullet has a CD around 0.1-0.3, no 0.3-0.4. But that is no good when discussing mirrors because they do not fly through space by themselves like a bullet does.

        The 1995 Taurus, like most cars from the 1980s-mid 1990s, had the mirror attached solidly to the sail panel, and flaring outward. My ears, and Ford’s later aerodynamic research showed that the mirrors were the greatest source of wind noise. As described in Mary Walton’s book “Car”, pages 91-93, this was due to air flowing off the windshield, swirling around the mirror, and striking the glass. You can visually see these swirls when the side glass is waxed and you drive in the rain; the droplets form a swirling pattern on the side glass behind the mirror. And the noise is indeed quite load at highway speeds.

        They (Steve Kozak and Gregory Ehlert) found that moving the side mirror stalk down onto the door instead of the sail panel greatly reduced noise by getting rid of the turbulence on the side glass. Not only that, but the door mounted mirrors actually *reduced* drag by countering the vortex coming off the base of the windshield with a vortex of it’s own; it sounds like the two combined to keep the boundary layer pressed against the side of the car without breaking out into vortices. That is why you see most mirrors now days mounted away from the door on a flat stalk that is just below the level of the base of windshield; otherwise it would be in the air flowing off the windshield and do the same thing.

        They then spent 36 hours of wind tunnel testing optimizing the shape of the mirror. In the end, the rest of the Ford team vetoed the door mounted mirrors and went with sail panel mounted mirrors; but George Ehlert did publish an SAE paper about their efforts; and I can’t help but think some of that research went into the 2015 Mustang’s door mounted mirrors.

        So, you can’t treat a mirror like a standalone object due to it’s interaction with the airflow coming off of the windshield and down the side of the car; and a properly designed and mounted mirror can actually help reduce drag and wind noise by helping channel the air coming off the base of the windshield down the side of the car.

        Another point, however, is the cost of mirrors these days coupled with their vulnerable placement on the outside of the vehicle. With remote adjustment, heating, turn signals, puddle lamps, etc. they have gotten expensive; I watched this kid’s mouth drop when my mechanic told him just replacing his broken mirror on his Chevy truck would run over $1,000.

      • 0 avatar

        > A typical bullet has a CD around 0.1-0.3, no 0.3-0.4.

        A typical pistol round is ~.3 and a half-circle is ~.4. This is trivial aero reference not open for interpretation by “engineers”.

        > But that is no good when discussing mirrors because they do not fly through space by themselves like a bullet does.

        Reading a popup book about the taurus doesn’t make one knowledgeable about anything, esp. if they can’t even grasp their own comments:

        > That is why you see most mirrors now days mounted away from the door

        Oops.

        Even in F1, surely the pinnacle of bespoke aero prototypes where even extra coanda effect of excess engine exhaust is used to increase diffuser performance, the mirrors are just the same bullet shapes on stalks. So much for performance-increasing boundary effect proposed via kid’s books, LOL.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Nice try; but I am not feeding the trolls and turning this into a 900 comment back-and-forth with you. See Figure 3 below; we don’t shoot half-circles from our guns; and Fi cars don’t have broad pronounced cowls like road vehicles.:

          https://sites.google.com/site/technicalarchery/technical-discussions-1/drag-coefficients-of-bullets-arrows-and-spears

          You have a nice day.

          • 0 avatar

            > See Figure 3 below; we don’t shoot half-circles from our guns;

            Original statement: “A mirror has Cd akin to a bullet maybe ~.3-.4″.

            Also note the Cd of mirror-like objects from *your own link* which was evidently never read much less understood to any degree.

            > and Fi cars don’t have broad pronounced cowls like road vehicles.

            They do however have very large tires and massively complex front wings right in front of said mirrors.

            > Nice try; but I am not feeding the trolls and turning this into a 900 comment back-and-forth with you.

            I don’t recall any back-and-forth was ever necessary given a few examples is sufficient to demonstrate the degree of clueless indignation every time.

          • 0 avatar

            ^ btw, mr. “engineer”, there’s a graph for G1 reference projectile of ~.3 from your *own link*.

            F_cking embarrassing, only to be repeated again in the near future no doubt.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      hreardon – - -

      If I remember this sequence properly from past data, the largest sources of aerodynamic drag in modern passenger cars now are:
      1) Undercarriage;
      2) Wheel wells;
      3) Front fascia;
      4) Rear end;
      5) Side affects, including mirrors.

      So, yes, removing side mirrors would help, but as a % of everything else…about 1%.

      Some car makers are and have been addressing the top three for some time with under-body panels and air-dams(#1); air-curtains and vents (#2); and louvres (#3).
      The rear-end turbulence issue is being addressed with diffusers and “spoilers” to reduce “eddies” and vortices.

      But mirrors could be made much more aerodynamic to help even that 1%.

      I suspect, as with square headlamps a generation ago, getting rid of side mirrors is more of a styling request, and a way to charge more money for cars.

      —————

  • avatar
    redav

    I support replacing side mirrors with cameras that display on HUDs in the corners of the windshield. Not only does it improve aero, it also means less noise and less for inconsiderate parkers to ding. The HUDs would require less head/eye motion and puts more information in the normal field of vision.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Okay, let’s say you’re in a secluded spot with a significant other you just met, with amazing statistics (38-22-36). you’ve rounded third base and you’re sprinting for home. Can you see the morality police sneaking up on you in the camera mirrors with the engine turned off?

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Its fine in nice sunny California, but I know first hand how useless cameras quickly become in messy winter weather, while side mirrors will still allow decent vision. Very shortsighted decisions being made here, and the wording used to justify cameras due to fuel economy sounds over the top.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      A fold-out mirror when the weather is bad or the electronics don’t work would be nice. When the car gets old, you don’t have to spend $500 to get the electronics fixed!

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Trying pricing the side view mirror on a Chevy truck or on any vehicle that has remote adjustment, defrost, auto-dim, side turn signals, and/or puddle lights; and $500 sounds like a bargain.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Which cameras are you talking about in “messy winter weather”? Properly designed AND with reasonable de-icing processes (needed to clear those mirrors anyway) shouldn’t affect the utility of those side cameras. The rear-view camera, on the other hand, may require a little work to protect it from the usual spray that covers the back of all cars. But even that can be resolved by a number of relatively simple processes or a NASCAR-style peel-off or reel-type protective sheet over the lens.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I agree, this is ridiculous and ultimately unsafe.

      And I’m always finding myself with malfunctioning side mirrors, due to some bad sunlight or an electrical short, which don’t work!
      /sarc

    • 0 avatar
      BunkerMan

      I completely agree. I left my driveway this morning with a nice clear camera. We’re in the midst of a very snowy spring here, so by the time I got to work, the camera on my F-150 was covered in snow. I simply backed into my parking spot using the side mirrors, as God intended.

      As for having de-icing systems on them, that’s all well and good, but they won’t do anything but dry the road salt onto them, which also makes them pretty useless. At least if they are placed where the side mirrors are, you can reach out and wipe them off.

      The other issue is that some manufacturers don’t know how to make electronics work in very cold temperatures (read: Canada). My F-150 does fine, but when I had my Veloster, its camera would sometimes go black and white and other times have very annoying scan lines whenever the temp dropped to around -20C.

      Honestly, a better mandate would be to set a larger minimum size requirement for side mirrors. Yes, they can be ugly, but the mirrors on some cars today are tiny.

      Hell, why not have reverse visibility testing/rating done, along the lines of crash testing?

    • 0 avatar

      > Its fine in nice sunny California, but I know first hand how useless cameras quickly become in messy winter weather,

      This design decision effectively trades off keeping a small area (ie lens) clean vs. a larger surface like the mirror or rear window.

      On the one hand, the latter provides some redundancy against obstruction by small objects but is more difficult to clean.

      For a safety feature, simple/redundant seems better.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    I’m more interested in them getting systems that are already in cars to function together for safety.

    I have backup sensors. Why can’t I get a warning tone or indicator when I hit use my turn indicator (when moving to change lanes) and there is a car in my blind spot?

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Are you saying that current blind spot monitors don’t work? Or are you saying these should become standard before we try to implement cameras?

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        While I am aware that blind spot monitors exist, I’m not aware that they’re common features in new cars.

        My vehicle has a radar backup sensor, which gives me two forms of feedback when my car is in reverse gear. There is an audio warning system that gives me progressive pings via the speakers on the side of the car where there is an object. In addition, the center console display displays a top down view of the car with objects it has senses displayed on it as well. The system senses objects as far forward as the C pillar. As far as I’m aware, this forms the basis of many of the factory blind spot monitors that are already in use.

        I’m seeing a massive proliferation of these backup sensors in new cars, to the point where they seem de rigueur in gadget crazy Korean.

        The tech to do blind spot monitoring is already there and present in the car. Why can’t it be hooked up to my turn signal? Seems to that this is a useful safety feature that could and should be readily implemented before drastically changing up the way most people maintain situational awareness (mirrors) in the pursuit of minor improvements in aerodynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      What you describe is exactly how the Blind Spot Monitoring and Lane Departure Warning works on my wife’s ’14 Rav4. There is a small light that comes on in the corresponding side view mirror when someone is in your blind spot. Should you put your lane change signal on with that light on, you get an audible alarm. If you have the Lane Departure Warning on, it will beep at you if you change lanes without using your turn signal. It also does cross traffic warning. Very cool tech and if it prevents a single accident, it has paid for itself. I’ve never merged into someone in 17 years of driving, but it could happen, so it was worth the extra couple hundred bucks, IMO. The cross traffic monitor is awesome for parking garages and parking in towns.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Backup sensors are ultrasonic; blind-spot monitors are radar. The technical requirements for each are different enough that they need to be implemented differently. (Well, I suppose you could implement the backup sensors with radar, but I suspect the expense would be considerable — and you wouldn’t be able to reuse the blind-spot hardware anyway, because they’re pointing in different directions.)

      Now that I think about it, I was just looking at a car that had a radar-based rear-facing collision detection system, and it had ultrasonic backup sensors too. If they were interchangeable, that seems like it would be the best case.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’d be curious to know how much these new cameras will cost to replace if some dolt takes one out. Last year I had to replace my heated side mirror when it got taken out and it was $175 used plus $50 to install.

    I replaced it because I am one of the few people I know that constantly scans my mirrors.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Per the NHTSA, putting backup cameras in every vehicle will raise costs by an average of around $100. Since these are a similar technology, their cost should be in line with that. However, that’s not the cost to replace, which you can bet will be more. But, if you can delete the cost of the side mirrors (probably not that much, really), it would help offset the increase.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        $100 dollars?? You can buy a point and shoot with video capabilities, a zoom lens, a battery and carrying case for $70 now at retail. The cost for buying and installing a camera and associate wiring couldn’t cost more than $20 on the high end. Factoring in a 100% markup, this shouldn’t add more than $40 to the price of a car. Or is 100% markup insufficient?

    • 0 avatar

      If someone gets close enough to damage these cameras: YOU’VE BEEN SIDESWIPED!!!

      It’s gonna cost way more than $200 to fix!!!

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The tech for making good, small cameras is very cheap. My guess is they would cost the same or even LESS then traditional heated, powered, side mirrors. Plus with a fish eye lens you could eliminate blind spots pretty easily. Or even have a view that shifts slightly based on turn signal position, gear selection (reverse) or other settings. This would be great on my truck for towing. I’ve often thought a backup cam located where the 3rd brake light on the rear of the cab would be perfect for backing up and aligning the trailer hitch.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    It’s about time. I wonder how much fuel an over the road truck could save by ditching those large mirrors they carry, Plus, a camera array could greatly reduce or eliminate their blind spots.

  • avatar
    heliotropic

    Where is screen for these going to be? Is there going to be one going on each side all the time, or will it use the center console display and force you switch it on when you want to use it? The latter could be useful if it was triggered by the turn signals, more people would have to signal.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Why not turn the rear-view mirror into a rear-view monitor–displaying back and both sides in a panoramic view? Such mirrors are still available through aftermarket suppliers and they are effective–as long as you don’t have huge headrests and ‘C’-pillars blocking the view.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        For a mirror you don’t need to re-focus your eyes, for a screen you have to re-focus. But screens have the advantage over mirrors that the sun isn’t shining right in your eyes.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    My concern with electronics systems in vehicles, is that the electronics depreciate very fast and when they break down, they are no longer fixable and the complete assembly must be replaced.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      How long is “very fast” for you? What I’ve found is that such systems typically last about 5-8 years before becoming problematic, which is the typical lifespan for a one-owner car. Not even your desktop computer lasts that long on average. That would offer an ideal opportunity to upgrade the system.

    • 0 avatar

      keep it simple, stupid!

      Re Vulpine, 5-8 years means a lot of people are going to have to get the damn things repaired.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    How well will these work in the dark? Will they be overwhelmed by the headlights of cars behind you, the way a digital camera can be “dazzled” by a bright light? I suspect it’ll be like playing Gran Turismo or Forza on a night track – which is to say, a sorry substitute for a mirror.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      And what’s to keep the system from having an automatic light sensor built in that dims the display–just like auto-dimming mirrors? It sounds to me like you’re so used to those auto-dimming mirrors that you don’t even remember when we didn’t even have day/night mode manual mirrors.

      I’m sure you still get blinded by headlights of a car right off your rear quarters–unless you simply re-aim them and never use them? That’s even WORSE than being ‘blinded’.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      My mirrors are constantly overwhelmed by d!ckheads with lights aimed too high or trucks with sketchy HID retrofits, so I’m not sure what the difference is. At least the camera won’t reflect it back into my eyes.

    • 0 avatar
      Elena

      Your eyes will be better than the best camera now available adapting to changing lighting conditions. WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) is an expensive feature (requires post processing the sensor image) hence we’re talking about a camera which will not be cheap. My main objection besides many technical issues with cameras is image a monitor shows lacks depth (2D). I will have a hard time estimating distance from it. Sensors might help, but in really tight maneuvers I trust nothing as much as my own eyes and depth perception.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Cameras are not intended to replace eyes, but since you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, the camera lets you see where you otherwise couldn’t. Yes, driving schools do teach to not only use your mirrors, but also turn your head to make sure you’re clear to maneuver. The camera lets you know just how close you are to any obstacle.

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    If every vehicle is going to have a back-up camera (and maybe side mirrors as well), they’ll all need an infotainment screen. How about the Feds also mandate that all OBDII scan info be accessible on the screen too? Not the generic scan tool codes, but the info the dealer gets when they hook up.

    I know that would cut into the stealership’s $100+ diagnostic fee and all, so it’s never gonna happen, but I can dream. Maybe I’ll write my congressman a heartfelt letter…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You know that kind of data has been available for over 25 years now, don’t you? Even the dealerships get the codes and have to cross-reference them, though their external computer can automatically access that reference. My ’85 Toronado had that ability right on the digital dashboard display, though I admit it wasn’t available on all cars at the time–or even now. On the other hand, a lot more cars have that ability today than ever before BECAUSE of the modern dashboards.

      • 0 avatar
        bills79jeep

        If there is a vehicle that will display the reason for a check engine light, it’s news to me. I know some have the capability to display the code, i.e. 0301. My Jeep would flash codes through the digital odometer if you did some key on-off-on-off trick (sometimes).

        What I’m looking for is the check engine light to come on, and the infotainment screen to display something like – “P0301 Code – Cylinder #1 Misfire” Added to that, I want it tied to the other on-board electronics, so that when there is a trans fault, it displays those codes as well, not just the generic OBDII trans fault code.

        I’m not asking for the thing to fix itself, I just want to tell me (for free) the same information the dealer puts you over a barrel for.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          While it’s not “for free”, an OBDII adaptor and software are available for your smartphone/tablet that lets you read those codes AND cross-references them to their definition. Unlike you, 95% of the world’s drivers could care less what that means, so it’s up to us to find the answers. My old Toronado gave me the codes without any weird key-switch gimmicks and an easily-downloaded PDF gave me the translations (I’ve been an ‘internet’ user for a long, long time.) With what I just described, it’s a lot easier now to monitor those things.

          • 0 avatar
            Elena

            OBDII bluetooth adapter + Asteroid Parrot Smart (in dash infotainment unit, double DIN) + Torque (software, an android app) and you’ll see what’s going on in real time.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Autozone, and I am sure others; will hook up a diagnostic tool and tell you what it means for free if you don’t want to count beeps or flashing lights.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Yay! More distractions! More wasted electricity! More price hikes! More stuff to go wrong!

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Ok, this is one argument I’ll agree with–but just like most of the others, they do offer practical and life-saving benefits. What I don’t like is that it literally takes an ‘act of Congress’ to revoke obsolete standards.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Agreed actually, I welcome “cam-mirrors” so long as they’re optional and don’t give dealers an excuse for huge mark-ups.

        They need to be located in rational spots too, I don’t trust modern stylists to follow up on this though, they’ll make the screens just as squinty as headlights and green houses. .

        • 0 avatar
          tankinbeans

          “I don’t trust modern stylists to follow up on this though, they’ll make the screens just as squinty as headlights and green houses.”

          I completely agree with this statement. My friend drives my Focus fairly often and he complains that the mirrors are too big and get in the way. I’ve never had such a problem with them, but then again I really like big honkin’ mirrors when properly adjusted (I will never understand the need to have your side mirrors adjusted so that you can see the side of your car – my family does this.) Currently I have the integrated blind spot mirror and it’s been a wonderful addition to the overall view out of the car. I’ve gotten uncomfortable when I’ve driven a car that has a nickle sized mirror that I’m supposed to be able to use.

          As I said I above, I look at them frequently so that I can monitor the goings on around me.

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          If mirrors are deleted, which is the point of this exercise, cam-mirrors will be mandatory.

          As far as electricity usage, cars will already be required to have a screen for their backup cam, so we’re just talking a couple cameras, which use hardly any juice.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        “Life-saving”? Oh, please. We’re talking about updating an existing requirement, not creating a new one, and increased safety isn’t even a consideration here.

        It sounds like you’re far more interested in validating your personal choices through regulation than you are in the thing that’s actually being regulated.

  • avatar

    Mirrors work 100% of the time when used with common sense.

    Mirrors have a 0% chance of sudden electrical failure.

    If the servos moving the mirrors failed, you can always adjust by hand.

    Mirrors with blind-spot warnings/ultrasound warnings are awesome.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      What happens when the mirrors get broken (or fall off the windshield)? Mirrors do NOT have a 0% chance of outright failure.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @Vulpine

        But the chances of that happening suddenly are almost nil unlike in the scenario BTSR describes.

        @BTSR

        While an electrical systems failure is certainly possible I would rank it low. Its more likely you’ll get a short in the camera or wire and the “mirror” cuts in and out right when you need it.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          You mean like when that other car smashes your mirror? Like when you ‘almost’ sideswipe that fence post or other road/parking obstacle? You’d really be surprised at how many broken side-view mirrors I see where I live. They’re not all *that* common, but they’re not all that Uncommon, either. I’ve got a photo of a big F-150 using a child’s toy mirror strapped to the big mirror housing just to ‘get by’. It’s legal–I think–but only barely.

          • 0 avatar

            If you have an F150, you’re more likely to have your mirror STOLEN by some scumbag who damaged theirs.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Read what I said. The housing was still in place, but the glass was missing. Obviously the old mirror has been broken, not stolen.

          • 0 avatar
            Elena

            Based on mirrors hanging by the wiring I see or “fixed” with duct tape (sometimes painted to match the car’s color) a lot of people don’t need them much. Never seen a cop bother them. Certainly not legal but as long as not enforced…

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “The chances of that happening suddenly are almost nil”

          I drove a transit bus for five years. During that time, other drivers broke or knocked off six side mirrors from buses I was driving. In three of those cases I had to park the bus because all of the glass was gone and there is no safe way to drive a 60′ bus in city traffic without any left-hand mirror.

          • 0 avatar

            Would you be interested in writing up some of your experiences driving a transit bus? That’s an interested driving perspective.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I do have some good stories. Maybe someday I’ll submit a piece. As it is, though, I already spend too much time writing blog posts, although in a non-automotive realm…

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Yes mirrors can fail. I once borrowed an in-law’s camper-van, was adjusting the mirror and the glass fell out. This was after the roof-mounted TV antennae broke off while cruising on the interstate. Good times.

  • avatar
    red60r

    Volvo uses blind-spot cameras at the base of the side mirrors (through M.Y. 2013) which can be fooled by low-angle sunshine which crashes their detection software, requiring a re-boot (entailing a restart of the whole $%#@*&!! car) to clear the rapidly-flashing warning light. They have switched to radar for 2014, which presumably eliminates that glitch. The newly-proposed requirement for backup cameras is, however, a good idea since the industry’s current high-beltline designs are one giant blind-spot.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Stylists have already been given the green light to remove the bumpers and most of the windows so I suppose mirrors can’t be far behind.

  • avatar
    MrBostn

    Lots of incremental costs are being added to cars. I know this feature is only $100ish. What about the next required feature, and the next.

    Like others have mentioned,cost of the part to be installed at the factory will pale to the cost for repairs.

  • avatar

    I’m fine with having both or either.

    But I wish the NTSB would address the HUGE issue of the covers over head lamps that hinder proper lighting after few years of debris hitting them and the elements making them yellow and/or cloudy. The only thing worse than losing one’s own headlights is seeing others heading toward you with limited visibility.

    These headlights these days seem to be all manufactured as assemblies. You just can’t replace the degraded lens. In my own case, that amounted to $1300. per side for the assemblies and a lot of labor to remove and replace the front bumper cover.

    No wonder more people don’t do this and drive around with unsafe head lighting. IMHO the side mirrors issue pales in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      In addition, the high cost of OEM assemblies sends many to the aftermarket where there is a minefield of poor replacement options.

      3M’s headlight restoration kit works well, though I believe some lenses fog and yellow from the inside out – the restoration kit can’t help there.

    • 0 avatar
      gmichaelj

      Agreed it should be glass or some better grade of plastic that better resists yellowing and pitting.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I think replacing side mirrors with cameras is a great idea – it will make it impossible for people to screw up the adjustment and aim them at their back doors.

  • avatar

    fairly good styling overall but that is one butt ugly grille, yuck!

  • avatar
    z9

    The cost of replacing the camera appears to be far less than replacing the “anti-dazzle” glass used in side-view mirrors that don’t blind you with the headlights of drivers with their brights on at night. I don’t know what that glass is made out of, but it’s probably coated with the same magic substance that is responsible for the cost of replacement ink for ink-jet printers.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I recently replaced the mirror glass on the driver side with a blue-tinted, heated blind spot (aspherical) mirror. I think it was $90. Would a camera really be more expensive?

      Side note – this mirror is some of the best money I’ve spent on the car. Even once the front bumper of the car next to me is in my peripheral vision, I can still see the rear of their car in the mirror. It also spots cars two lanes over. The whole “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” thing takes some getting used to (it is really pronounced), but overall a huge upgrade from the tiny 1:1 mirror that simply couldn’t be adjusted to cover everything at a glance.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    This is an April Fool’s Day story, right? I sure hope it is.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    Just get rid of the tops on cars and make them open-air like god intended. Then you don’t need half this crap.

    :)

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Surely this is an April 1st joke. Are we so stupid that we need cameras to do the work of our own eyes and heads? Whats next a device that picks up our arms and steers the car while you take a nap?

  • avatar
    carve

    This is great! Better highway mpg, less noise, and most of all better safety. Most people don’t know how to adjust their mirrors and you have to check three places for total situational awareness, plus blind spots. If this were replaced by a 180* field of view on a display in the dash…perhaps even appearing to float behind the instruments as a heads-down display, safety will be greatly improved

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’ve seen Teslas in the wild and find them to be attractive looking cars, yet the shown image isn’t flattering IMO. Could this just be a bad camera angle?

  • avatar

    And where are they going to put the display? The nice thing about your side mirror, is that it’s not anywhere in your forward field of vision, yet is still mounted high enough and close enough to the windshield that you’re not diverting your vision at too extreme an angle from what’s in front of you. You check your mirror, you see what’s coming up and you go back to looking ahead. Any place on the dashboard where they would put the display is going to lower your vision and take it away from the road.

    I’ve noticed a similar issue with backup cameras. You don’t want to be looking down at your dashboard when you’re backing up because you lose peripheral vision for cross traffic, which is likely why many companies are integrating side looking radar warnings with their backup displays. Again, where are they going to put the display?

    If you’re going to have them, I think the best place for both backup and side view video displays should be up in the rear view mirror, even if you have to make it wider. Still, there’s some wisdom in looking to the side if you want to change lanes.

    Do they still teach student drivers to turn around and check blind spots?

    I understand the desire for better aero but this seems to me to be a case of trying to find a high tech gizmo to surpass an already optimal solution that happens to be low tech. The only possible advantage besides aero is that you can use wide angle lenses and eliminate blind spots, but then if you’re mirrors are angled properly, there shouldn’t be blind spots.

    I do a lot of cycling and discovered years ago that handlebar mounted mirrors are useless, you need a helmet mounted mirror, and I’m surprised more motorcyclists don’t use them (though a motorbike’s handlebars don’t move around as much as on a bicycle). With a relatively tiny mirror mounted on a stalk just outside my forward vision, all I need to do is make a quick glance at the mirror.

    Also, what weighs more?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      An interesting series of questions, though I don’t agree with your view that there’s already an ‘optimal solution’ in use. For some, twisting the head and shoulders around makes controlling the vehicle itself more difficult and is the cause for some to hit the accelerator when they intended to hit the brake. Mirrors themselves are highly functional, true, but too many simply don’t use them or mis-aim them. Worse, some driving schools insist that the mirrors be aimed to “just see the side of the vehicle in the edge of the mirror”. The drawback is that this almost automatically blinds the driver to a car that’s farther up the side of your own vehicle and yet not far enough forward to be seen easily in peripheral vision. I purposely aim both left and right mirrors out so that I have to move left or right just a little bit to see the side of the car, which better covers the blind spots. Even so, I add a half-dollar sized ‘bubble’ mirror on both sides to see that little bit farther over.
      A side camera with a proper wide-angle lens to cover the blind spot without distorting the size too much would be a huge advantage. On the other hand, having a less-wide-angled lens mounted at the front fender (how about in that corner marker light housing?) could offer an even better solution as the perceived size of the ‘reflected’ views would be similar to the rear-view mirror itself and give a more realistic spatial awareness of the area around the car.

    • 0 avatar
      CRConrad

      One would think the most natural spot would be down by the roots of the A-pillars just like now, only on the inside. On top of the dashboard, between the lower corners of the windshield and the doors. You still get a bit of that “natural turn of the head”, and all; what’s not to like about putting them there?

      • 0 avatar
        Elena

        Try threading a needle without looking directly at it but doing so through your web cam and computer monitor. You’ll be aided by your proprioception and still… Might help you understand what I don’t like

        • 0 avatar
          CRConrad

          I never disagreed with any of that; my above post was in reply to Ronnie’s musings on where to put the display.

          Edited for clarity.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I’m a little different from most drivers and I think it makes me a better one as a result.

          First off, I have an eye condition that means I have very poor depth perception; I’m good at visualizing gross differences, but suck at short measurements. However, that also means that I don’t trust a direct view as much as I do my mirrors as an object’s placement in the view tells me more about how far away it is than if I were looking at it direct. As an example, my skill at parallel parking far exceeds the majority of drivers I see trying to do so, even when driving a truck half again longer than some cars. I’ve fit some cars into spots where another driver has given up despite them driving a smaller car than mine.

          However, more than once I have made a light touch to the bumper of the car in front or behind. This is where the cameras offer the greatest advantage. Good placement lets you see exactly how close you are to the vehicles to either side, front or rear. Judgement of when to turn and how far to turn becomes easier when you can SEE that you are too close or far enough away to continue the maneuver. Such cameras can be a real aid to the driver in those circumstances.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Take a look at your current ride; that prime real estate on the corners of the dashboard at the base of the A-pillars is usually taken up by the side window defrost vents.

        • 0 avatar
          CRConrad

          Actually, no, that real estate is perhaps not _quite_ full of defroster vents; not in my car anyway. Depends a bit on the size, of course — and yeah, it’s a bit of a tight fit, especially on the driver’s side(*) — but I reckon in my SEAT Exeo (which is basically Spanish for Audi A4 B7), it should be doable with displays up to four or five inches diagonal; like a largish smartphone or a rather small wing mirror. (Care to take my word for it, or do I have to find somewhere to post photos?)

          Also, I’d imagine once you start designing interiors around these displays from the start, the air vents can be moved a half-inch or inch this way and that. No, what I think speaks the loudest against this placement is probably sheer economics: These would be two additional displays that couldn’t be used for much else. Which manufacturer _wouldn’t_ be cheapskate enough to prefer integrating this function into the center-console display the already have, or at least (as someone [Ronnie?] suggested above) using one single screen up where the interior mirror is now?

          And on the gripping hand, maybe the best place for it from a usability perspective would be smack dab in the middle of the instrument panel, which anyway is just a big screen in some cars already and probably will be in pretty much all of them in the not-too-distant future. Or even, as someone also suggested already, as a head-up display just behind, or projected onto, the windshield. I’m not claiming down on the A-pillars is necessarily best, just throwing out that it could be pretty good as a suggestion for further discussion. Or, hey,if the vents really are a problem — how about just simply a bit higher up on the A-pillars?

          (*): It’s easier on the passenger side, where the screen is angled for more sideways viewing from the driver’s seat.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Just so we’re all on the same page – everyone knows the retail price of a web cam is below $10? Right?

    http://www.staples.com/office/supplies/StaplesProductDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogIdentifier=2&partNumber=IM1DT2595&langid=-1&nAID=17588969&KPID=IM1DT2595

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’m all for it. I think cars can look better without the mirrors. Sure, as an option it will be a huge markup for fat profit for about a week. Then competition sets in.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    It always amuses me when we see something on the “Junkyard find” articles that someone thought would be the next best idea but turned out to be a historical joke; those standard sealed beam highlights, up-shift indicators and motorized seat belts spring immediately to mind.

    In ten years we’ll have junkyard finds of Teslas with no mirrors and sideswipe damage and will be lamenting the multiple “unforeseen” problems because the rear view cameras got covered in grime, the HUD image was washed out in bright daylight and some 14 year-old found out how to hack the software so that it always displayed porn.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    One of the reasons this hasn’t happened yet is because cameras are actually a fairly poor substitute for mirrors. Mirrors are intuitive and provide more information than a camera; they preserve stereopsis and allow for motion parallax. Move your head, and the image shifts in a way that allows the brain to intuitively understand more of the view.

    • 0 avatar
      CRConrad

      Some cars already have sensors following the driver’s eye movements. Hook those up to the cameras, and hey presto, “Move your head, and the image shifts in a way that allows the brain to intuitively understand more of the view” with cameras, too.

      (Yeah, I know, ridiculously over-complex… But quite feasible. Just saying.)


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