Technology innovations in the automotive industry usually outpace the rules and regulations we follow. Camera usage in vehicles is currently being reviewed further. The United States plans to test and examine how side-mirror systems could eventually replace the traditional mirror to help drivers stay safe on roadways.
The NHTSA announced in August that it would start the process of researching driver behavior with side-mounted cameras providing an assist. Current regulations require every vehicle to have a reflective side mirror. Since there has been a lot of success in replacing rearview mirrors with cameras, the thought is that this new design could do the same thing.
Backup cameras are now federally-mandated in all new vehicles because of the benefits the technology provides.
Other Countries Are Already Updating Regulations
The NHTSA opened a 60-day period for public comment on the use of side-mounted cameras instead of reflective mirrors. Then the government will make a final decision on if the new technology is going to get the green light for American drivers.
Other markets around the world are already implementing this technology. Lexus began selling its ES sedan in Japan in 2018 with this design. Audi also has the technology as part of its E-Tron electric SUV that sells throughout Europe.The digital images from the cameras feed onto a display that drivers can see in the vehicle. This technology replaces the reflections that you see from the traditional mirror.
Current designs replace the mirror entirely. The NHTSA might look at an option that includes the traditional mirror still as part of the required configuration to give drivers a backup in case the electronics from the display fail to operate for some reason.
The two agencies that are currently pushing this idea in the United States are the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Daimler Trucks North America.
History of Using Cameras in Vehicles
The first backup camera used for a vehicle was on the 1956 Buck Centurion. This concept car was part of the presentation that year for the automaker at the General Motors Motorama. There was a rear-mounted TV camera that sent images to a screen in the dashboard.
This technology made another appearance in 1972 when Volvo included it with their Experimental Safety Car, but it didn’t make the final cut when the 240 models came to the market.
It wouldn’t be until 1991 when Toyota incorporated a backup cameral on the Soarer in Japan that this technology would become part of the production process. Even then, the option never came to the United States with the Lexus SC. That system was discontinued in 1997.
Modern rearview cameras reached the market in 2000 when the Infiniti division from Nissan introduced it on the 2002 Q45 sedan at the International Auto Show. Then Nissan added it to the Primera in 2002.
This new camera technology can provide drivers with a better field of view. It can eliminate blind spots without requiring drivers to turn their head to see traffic. That means there are fewer potential distractions that could lead to accidents.
If you would like to submit a comment about this new technology, then you can do so by following the information offered in the NHTSA notice requesting feedback.