One of the most commonly used tools for a driver might soon be replaced. Stoneridge Inc. is attempting to engineer a paradigm shift in how truckers stay aware of their surroundings by replacing side-view mirrors with camera systems which display a truck’s surroundings via in-cab screens. This change, the company says, can drastically expand a driver’s field of vision and boost safety, while improving aerodynamics and fuel savings.
How does it work? A profile on Trucks.com describes how Stoneridge’s “Mirror Eye” system “features multiple individually wired cameras that are redundant to protect from malfunction. They provide a driver views of the adjacent lanes and the ground on each side of the truck, as well as the blind spot over the front of the hood. The images appear on digital displays mounted on the interior pillars on either side of the windshield and in the center where a rearview mirror typically is located, as well as on the dashboard.”
Proof of concept is already being demonstrated in the United States, as well as in Europe. The U.N. has allowed trucks to replace mirrors with camera systems since early 2016, which quickly put the Mirror Eye system in operation on European roads. In the U.S., Stoneridge has been testing the system in for years – albeit with mirrors still attached to the prototype vehicles – but now they are requesting mirror exemptions from the Department of Transportation. Stoneridge hopes to gain approval and begin selling the system to U.S. commercial businesses by the end of 2018.
An expanded field of vision would be a big boost to safety for truckers and others on the road. Side-view cameras remove dangerous obstacles to visibility that come with traditional mirrors, including “blind spots, solar glare, poor night visibility, fog, rain, and ice.” Additionally, camera lenses with the Mirror Eye system are heated to guard against ice and frost and have a coating which resists moisture.
Not only are side-view cameras safe, but they also improve aerodynamics and increase savings on fuel. Trucks operating in Europe with the Mirror Eye system have improved fuel economy by roughly 2.5%, which has led to thousands of dollars in savings year-over-year.
These benefits have led the American Trucking Association to voice their support for mirrorless technology, advocating for the DOT to quickly approve mirror-exemption requests. Transportation companies are certainly interested in the technology; FrieghtWaves.com reports that “Schneider National, J.B. Hunt, and Maverick Transportation are all testing the system.” Meanwhile, IHS Markit’s Camera and Display Mirrors Report reminds us that side-view camera sensors are already being implemented in pedestrian vehicles, with over 1.8 million vehicles projected to be produced with side-view camera systems by 2025, with over 500,000 units totally removing traditional mirrors.
Side-view camera systems are starting to sound inevitable. But we want to know what you think! Let us know in the comments below – would you replace your traditional mirrors with a side-view camera system?