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NHTSA Approves GM's Next Generation Camera Mirror

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On: Wed, Mar 2, 2016 at 7:49AM | By: Carl Malek

NHTSA Approves GM's Next Generation Camera Mirror

When Cadillac first unveiled the hybrid rear-camera mirror system in the Cadillac CT6 sedan, it was a preview of a significant technological leap:  A mirror that would support a full-view rear backup camera display. It was unknown if the novel technology would make it through the rigorous screening of the federal government, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has now approved the technology for production vehicles.

Due to initially launch in the CT6—before branching out to the XT5 crossover and the Chevrolet Bolt EV—the Rear Camera Mirror uses an all-new high-dynamic range camera feed system that reduces glare and provides improved visibility in low-light situations. The feed is presented in a 1280x240 in-mirror LCD display with 171 pixels per inch. This potent steup brings a 300 percent improvement in rear vision, which, in turn, helps improve safety, especially when backing up in high traffic volume areas or where small children are present.

"The closest comparison to this kind of rear vision would be driving a convertible with the top down," stated Cadillac CT6 chief engineer Travis Hester. "In addition to the increased field of view, the technology eliminates any rear seat, rear pillar or passenger obstructions, allowing the driver an unimpeded view of the lanes behind and traditional blind-spots." The lens of the camera is treated with a specially designed hydrophobic coating that helps it maintain visibility in poor weather conditions. However, if the lens does somehow get coated in grime, the driver can simply flip a small toggle switch that transforms the display into a traditional rear view mirror.

The NHTSA's Chief Counsel, Paul A. Hemmersbaugh, sent a letter to Brian Latouf, GM's Director of Global Vehicle Safety, which stated, "While the Full Display Mirror is an item of motor vehicle equipment that performs additional driver activated functions, we do not believe that the fact that it performs such functions alters its identity as an item that includes an "inside rear view mirror of unit magnification..." While this is indeed a sign of progress, the agency's slow acceptance of camera technology still appears to exclude camera-based side mirrors. Several automakers have begun an organized effort to replace side mirrors with new camera-based systems that would allow vehicles to be more stylish, while improving aerodynamics due to the elimination of the drag and wind buffeting that comes with traditional side view mirrors.

Despite this organized effort, it appears that the NHTSA is not budging on its requirement for vehicles to have physical side view mirrors; perhaps further advancements in both vehicle and camera technology could help sway their opinion, and at least open the channel for definitive talks on the subject between the NHTSA and automakers.



Drew | 3:57PM (Fri, Apr 8, 2016)

Great idea, as long as it works well.

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