Something to look forward to: Given the widespread use of technology in cars, both behind the scenes and in touchscreen-laden modern interiors, it's only a matter of time before every interaction we have with a vehicle is processed by a computer chip. One of those includes the replacement of traditional side-view mirrors with cameras, a feature that has already made its way to Japan and Europe but is yet to appear in the US as it's currently forbidden by government regulation.
Side-view cameras like those in the Lotus Evija pictured above might be given a nod on US roads as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration along with Department of Transportation plan to test how drivers can use these cameras to replace traditional mirrors, reports Reuters.
The test would examine "driving behavior and lane change maneuver execution" in cars with camera-based systems and traditional mirrors, said the NHTSA and DOT in a notice requesting public comments on the proposal.
It further says that research participants will be members of the public who are licensed car drivers and/or truck drivers. They will drive "a test vehicle equipped with a camera-based system in place of outside rearview mirrors, an original equipment outside rearview mirror system, or a combination of both."
Driving will take place on track-based and on-road terrain with "semi-naturalistic driving" where participants would make use of conventional and camera-based visibility systems in multi-lane scenarios, while some portion of the testing will also take place at night-time or early morning, to examine performance during those conditions.
With the help of recording instruments that monitor eye glances, vehicle speed, position, steering angle and turn signal status, researchers will be able to assess participants' level of comfort and confidence in using the technology.
According to automakers, one major benefit of using cameras over conventional side-mirrors is the reduction of size that improves aerodynamics, subsequently minimizing drag, wind noise and fuel consumption. Audi and Lexus, among other manufacturers, have current models on sale (outside the US) that utilize this feature.
It can be argued that using cameras would take some getting used to as the screens on which the camera footage is streamed to, like on Audi's E-Tron shown above, are generally located lower down and lack the visual depth of a conventional mirror. Then there's the question of reliability, manufacturing costs, maintenance and repair bills associated with this technology.
The NHTSA and DOT has given the public until October 28, 2019 for its feedback on the proposal as it looks forward to 1,210 participants completing the three question sets in the activity.