True in theory, but actual practicality near zero.
We aren't racing formula1 cars on the highway, so a mirror isn't really slowing you down that much and creating drag. Especially when you think about how much surface area it occupies versus the actual car itself.
”They can account for as much as three to six percent of the total aerodynamic drag of a car. That may not sound like a lot, but it adds up. Over the course of 200,000 miles, that could cost you as much as $2,000. A study of big trucks (with really humongous mirrors) found they can add a whopping 10 percent to drag.“
Also, these car mirrors after 200,000 miles will still work. I don't know if the car "video" mirrors will be operational after 200,000 miles so the cost of replacing them can easily out run the "fuel savings" that you would expect.
Lastly, there is something that car manufacturers lose when they move away from the physical world. The parallax effect is one that others have pointed out as a key benefit that would be lost, the fact that I can get a rain spot on my mirror and still see clearly, but if there is water on my rear parking camera I see nothing is something else that needs to be considered.
Progress is great, but at some point you realize you are actually degrading the experience not improving it. The Tesla has a great big iPad to control the car, but guess what, it is super distracting, because there are no physical knobs to touch so anytime you change a setting you are forced to look down. Because there are no physical knobs your finger can not rest on anything so as you are driving on the road any bump or jolt moves your finger which makes it much harder to hit the key you want. This leads to more distraction.
Just because you can doesn't always mean you should.
Camera's provide more options
Yes, but with a wide-angle lens camera you can convert to a less distorted view in software. Or stitch together with other views.
A mirror I have a lifetime experience worth of knowing what is, no perceivable extra layer of processing required. A camera, not quite so, although of course it's a nice enough extra to have.
However, I have yet to see a mirror that will see behind the back bumper: this has already prevented a host of dangerous situations for me ("person was there, then went somewhere, where the heck are they, oh: for some reason admiring my back bumper and the pretty light that the reverse lights give out").
Which nicely explains why young people don’t have the hang ups you have.
Parallax is one way we estimate distances, technology can do a lot better than "move head side to side to get a rough idea."
Now getting people used to wide FOV, that may be challenging. Find an FPS that lets you set the FOV to anything you want, set it to 180. After a couple of minutes you can get used to it. Beyond 180 it is hard! But even 190 or so is doable after a bit of practice.
Not sure how the general public would do with that though! (At what point has a high enough % of the general public played FPSs that such a UI could be gotten away with?)
They could also use complex optics like "plain lens" with a "fish-eye border", or highlight obstacles by boosting colour contrast or adding in non-visual sensor data.
If cameras are that much better we should be getting vehicles that use both (which we do for rear-view but not side-mirrors AFAIK).
I've never seen parallax emulated with head tracking that didn't have piss-poor latency issues. Not to mention poorly configured kalman filters that seem to always do too little or too much smoothing. These systems are fine for cute tech demos but don't belong in safety-critical applications involving multiple tons of steel moving at 100+km/h.
Before replacing mirrors in cars, why not start with making a TV "window" that actually works. Prove the technology in a real world application that isn't safety critical, then we can talk. If it's ready for use on highways, then it should be easy to mount a TV on a wall and provide a convincing experience of actually looking out a window.
I'd love to see a transparent A pillar but I can imagine the parallax issues (talked about in other comments here) would make them a bit weird.
Imagine a thousand foot tall semi-transparent google maps pin, resting lightly on the head of the person you're picking up, visible for hundreds of miles but only to those who are interested.
I have no idea if it will ever become feasible, but I sure hope it does.
Transparent material that becomes opaque to bright light (something like gamma < 1, gain < 1) in the direction of the light. So each point of the material is transparent or opaque depending on the viewing angle and respective directed light flow through it.
I think such a material could be engineered.
The 2015 Honda CR-V has a camera under the right mirror. When you turn your right blinker on, the screen switches to that view with an overlay for car lengths. It's kinda handy, but I probably wouldn't pay much more marginally for that feature.
But like the Audi A8 it's not exactly a cheap car; maybe it will be available in more cars in a few years (or once some patent expires?).
Edit: Here is a 52s video/ad for the feature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkF9Txbeaxg
It's gonna be a long time before mainstream car adopt this though.
And it had Turbo-Boost (same video with cue-in): https://youtu.be/3KPYIaks1UY?t=81
The Ford Edge has had the option since 2015. Looks like the Explorer got it the next year. The Subaru Ascent has it for 2019. I'm sure there are others that didn't come up in the first couple pages of my search results.
Unfortunately, it just cannot be...
Glad it is at least being researched. Thanks for the (very precise) link!
At night, if the display isn't dark enough, it will act as a light source, interfering with the driver's night vision. Black has to be black, and dark objects that would be visible with the naked eye via mirror had better be visible with the camera.
The main issue would probably be cost, but at a technical level having a suitable screen for car mirrors shouldn't be a problem.
So I can imagine cameras further supplementing mirrors, but not replacing them. At least not for human-driven cars. Self-driving cars are another issue, but I'm also willing to bet there's robust failure detection among sensors, lidar, and cameras, and the car would safely shutdown in the presence of an issue.
I'm so happy failure is being addressed. Because to me (as a former engineer) this is one of the most important factors. In addition to failure due to snow, what about it just breaking? A small rock or crack is not going to greatly obscure a mirror's view. More annoying, but you can still get most information. A smaller lens does have the advantage of a smaller target area but more potential for complete failure. It is also more complex and with more complexity there are more modes of failure.
For example: I used to drive an old truck. The mirror adjustments just did not work, but I could manually move them. Dead simple and the purpose of the device is still achieved even when something broke in the device's chain. With a camera you have the screen (which can seriously affect your night vision! I'm EXTREMELY annoyed about this in my current car), every point of connection from screen to camera (software and hardware), the camera, and the lens. I'm under the impression that not much can go wrong here in the product chain and you still have a functioning device.
BUT the camera does have clear advantages! You can use IR so you can see at night. No glare. Better angles. Software that can do object detection and help you avoid accidents. It is a matter of trade off. Typically in machines that can easily lead to fatality we tend to me more risk adverse.
The test driver in the video said it was probably that way for regulatory/safety reasons and sometimes needed when the sun is shining too brightly on the camera. But it's better if someone is sitting in the backseat as well as giving you a wider view than the rear window + mirror alone could.
In heavy snow, this can also happen to mirrors and your rear window. Usually you open the driver door so you can look behind you.
Thankfully, I finally have space in the garage that this winter it won't be an issue.
I like to use darker film in side windows, but it makes hard to use the side mirrors at night, I would love to replace them with cameras.
Things like night mode and anti-glare would be pretty cool as well.
Just drove a car with multiple sensors and cameras and it wouldn't stop freaking out in the rain. Even while parked in an empty lot. It also slammed the brakes automatically while I was driving. Scared the crap out of me so I immediately turned it off after that incident.
So as for failure modes, nah, not terribly worried.
(Of course, the fight to prove that a car which is essentially a closed container is safe to operate would make the fight to just remove the side mirrors look like a schoolyard scrap.)
I've already brushed against other person's car in the dark and lost some sleep over that, waiting for them to contact me (thankfully, they weren't too much upset over it). A 360 camera is certainly not a replacement for mirrors, but looks like an awesome ability to have additional vision.
BTW, I wonder why no one places parking camera display in a way that requires driver to physically turn backwards and see the window as well. Even mirrors don't really provide a proper view, and it's inconvenient (if not unsafe) to turn back and forth.
This sounds awfully dystopian…
Personally, I loved the cameras.
Similarly, I’m able to park faster when I rent cars with cameras. Over the past few years, I’ve perceived that contemporary cars are designed with visual sight lines & ability to see the end of the trunk greatly reduced. Cars almost seem to assume a camera will be available.
Cameras are tremendously better at night, if night vision is available.
That design change preceded camera coverage. I believe you're looking at structural safety there. Making a car that can be collided with in almost any direction safely is not easy. Some window was lost.
With the camera, on the other hand, the view is great.
You'd have to have a pretty large jolt to knock a mirror off its housing or mount.
You got me till this point, and you prove we should be cautious about such tech. I live in one of the richest cities in the world (certainly one of most expensive), and the amount of 10+ year old cars is huge. Go to country side, and they become majority, with many clocking 15+ years.
For physical mirror to fail, you need to break it or completely lose it, and then its obvious whats the situation. Electronics have more components that can fail, and as an IT guy, I know what can will eventually fail (ie how many digital cameras work flawlessly after 10 years of daily use?). Last thing I need is to have an potentially unreliable critical safety feature in the car.
I'm also not quite sure that good old mechanical cars fail less than modern vehicles supplied with lots of complicated electronic stuff.
My much newer 2007 car has a lot more electronics (more airbags, automatic breaking, adaptive cruise control), but so far, still has had no problem, but it's only 3 years old (bought in 2016), so time will tell.
The rear-view camera on our car is 3 years old and hasn't broken yet, but it took 7 years for the side mirror to stop working on the other car, so I guess time will tell, but the camera seems much simpler (and the camera doesn't need to stick out from the car like a traditional mirror so should be less prone to accidental breakage)
Of course, this becomes irrelevant when we are talking about parking.
But given the number of times during snow season, where my backup camera is completely covered or requires me to clean it. I'd trust the mirrors quite a bit more. That said, I wouldn't mind both.
We should have around-view cameras for all cars by now, parking should be simple and we should never ever curb a rim.
I will say that mirrors are super high resolution, work in a variety of lighting conditions and have a big enough surface that a little dirt doesn't obscure everything.
But I've been proven wrong. I thought people wouldn't buy a car without a dashboard in their line of sight and the model 3 is a top seller in spite of that.
We Just bought a RAV4 with a camera as a central console rear view mirror witch you can flip on or off.
It sounds like a great idea but the amount of time it takes your eyes to refocus when moving from the road to the camera makes it a safety hazard. And painful on the eyes.
Nice concept. Fundamentally unusable.
It is sad to see how adding more features is degrading cars. Stop fucking with things that work. I hate touchscreens except for my phone. That's the only place where it makes sense and it has worked well. I hate using an iPad and I hate literally anything that has a touchscreen. Old ATMs were so much better than this touchscreen bullshit.
Cameras instead of mirrors is how upper management wants to do cool things for the sake of doing cool things - aerodynamic efficiency takes a back seat where I have a risk of not being able to see things clearly, or if the camera breaks or if parallax becomes a problem.
When I was getting started in engineering I did a stint writing process management software where I worked. I was quite proud when I completed the project I was assigned by the VP of engineering. I had him come over to show off the completed project. I showed him all the features. Everything worked. I completed it on time and exactly per the specifications he gave me.
And then he took his hand and swiped across the computer keyboard back and forth like he was playing every note on a piano by pressing down and moving his hand all the way to the left and then all the way to the right.
He looked at me, smiled, and walked away. Didn't have to say a thing.
I won't describe what happened. Let's just say it broke. Had this been a controlling a real process --rather than a simulator-- it would have been a horrible mess.
It took me twice as long to redo the thing and make it fault tolerant, not just to user mishaps (drop a coffee cup, wrench, notebook or trip and press down with your entire hand on the keyboard) but also to sensor failures.
With one simple demonstration he taught me what school never did about software, hardware and the real world.
Touch screens are great tools, but you really have to think things through very carefully before using them as the only UI device. Bottom line: You should be able to close your eyes, place your hands on the touch screen and play it like a piano without anything bad happening.
Having designed lots of physical user interface control panels (knobs, buttons, etc.) I know exactly why people resort to touch screens: Designing control panels is very, very hard. You also have to think things through and do a lot of testing in order to be able to both deal with ergonomics, usage patterns, function availability and user cognitive load. With touch screens you design the control panel and then let the software gods sort it out. The process allows one to get to final hardware quicker while delaying all the hard UI work as much as possible.
I won't even get into the issue of touch screens creating greater cognitive load as well as requiring finer motor control, both things that are undesirable while driving or operating equipment that could cause physical harm or property damage.
I haven't been able to source OEM euro driver's side mirrors for the Tesla, but I had them on my VW and have them on my BMWs.
Ideally they'll do this in a logical manner, which doesn't try to replace mirrors (at first anyway) and instead just integrates into them, to provide a more complete field of view. The current trend of "blind spot" monitoring systems seems to be following this kind of idea, and so far I haven't seen much to complain about there.
I felt that first the screen location was wrong. Outside the car is more where I am supposed to look anyway, instead of akward down from windows. I will have to concentrate more when looking at the screen, for my brain to register what is happening, instead of glance at the mirrow. Maybe it's to do with focal points, maybe it's still a screen. My eyes work better registering movement in the corner of my eyes on mirrows than on screens.
I really can't see why not.
Personally, I don't want it. Personally I think the reduced aerodynamic drag mentioned in other comments isn't a big deal. The highest number I saw on savings is $2000 on 200,000 miles. I'd think those cameras would probably need maintenance and replacement over that time which will come to a similar cost as the energy savings. But even if there was the full $2k in savings over 200,000 miles, I'd still not want it due to reliability and complexity of maintenance concerns.
The other comments against the tech mention challenging conditions for cameras, but these seem to forget those conditions can affect mirrors and windows too. It's all about the details of implementation (i.e. badly installed cameras are an issue, badly installed mirrors/windows/blindspots are an issue)
Just because I don't like something doesn't mean I think others shouldn't be able to prefer it that way. So I support legalizing this technology. I mean, it might even turn out better than a curmudgeon like me would anticipate. That's the beauty of freedom, ideas get to stand on their own merit.
Overall, the meat of the article IMO was this part:
"NHTSA’s 2017 tests of a prototype camera monitoring system found it was “generally usable” in most situations, and produced better-quality images than mirrors at dusk and dawn. It also found potential flaws, including displays that were too bright at night, distorted images and camera lenses that would become obscured by raindrops."
I mean, if not for self-driving cars, then we could reason that camera technology will ultimately progress to the point where it'd be vastly superior to traditional mirrors and culturally adopted, reducing this to a question of when/how to do the transition.
But with self-driving cars on the horizon, it's harder to justify revamping human driving techniques since the payoff period would be pretty short.
Which isn't to shoot down the idea; I mean, it sounds neat. Just, it's not as obviously justified as it would've been if we could've reasonably assumed that human-driven cars would still be a thing in 100 years from now.
Some Insurance companies already offer subsidies for "safe drivers" who consent to being tracked ... the rest is just natural progression.
I dunno how practical that might be, though. I mean, while I agree that mature self-driving technologies should be able to work with semi-arbitrary sensors, early self-driving systems -- the sort that'll tend to co-exist with human drivers -- would seem to benefit from purpose-specific camera systems, optimized for the benefit of the self-driving system without compromises/complexity to enable dual-use.
edit: also the title says "could", so it means they won't
I don't. Humans currently have 7 nine's of reliability when driving. Are computers that reliable?
If you want to supplement actual mirrors, fine. But replacing them entirely is stupid.