Objects in Mirror Could Soon Disappear

April 2nd, 2014
Tesla-Model-X-Concept

Hey look, no mirrors

How many cameras do we need in our cars?

Back in 2010 we posted an article that said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would require backup cameras in all new vehicles by September 2014.

Obviously that mandate didn’t come to fruition, and the good ol’ fashioned rear view mirror has continued to function perfectly fine.

During the time of that 2010 article, I remember thinking backup cameras were an unnecessary and expensive piece of technology. In the last four years, though, I’ve come into possession of a 2013 Subaru equipped with a backup camera and I never want to go back.

Now there’s a new mandate from the NHTSA, along with new technology coming from the most innovative automaker on the planet that could eventually eliminate the simplest piece of automotive safety gear: the mirror.

If reports are to be believed, backup cameras will be standard equipment on all new cars sold in the U.S. in the next four years. That’s a little hard to buy into, considering the same announcement was made four years ago. The technology in that time has become more common and the NHTSA says this ruling is final, so this time it might actually happen.

The ruling requires all new cars and light-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight under 10,000 pounds to have backup cameras. In addition, the NHTSA will specify exactly how the cameras and displays should operate. It’s a great safety feature, but with the average new car price over $32,000, mandates like this won’t make cars any more affordable.

The other reflective glass we rely on in our cars are the side mirrors, which could also give way to cameras. Tesla, along with GM, Toyota and Volkswagen, has petitioned the NHTSA to allow cameras instead of mirrors. Automotive News says,

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.

I’m going to take the same stand on this topic that I took four years ago with backup cameras. Why use cameras when mirrors have proven themselves for the last hundred years? I’m not convinced that removing mounted mirrors would make any significant difference in fuel economy. Plus, I’d really miss looking into a passenger side mirror and seeing the “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” disclaimer.

Should cameras replace the mirrors in our cars?

-tgriffith

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