New Kind of Automotive Side Cameras

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For more than 5 years, auto makers have sought to change US laws to permit side cameras to replace side mirrors in new cars.  Why be limited to a mirror full of blind spots when you can use a side camera showing a full view of the side lanes?

Last month, the Fed decided to take a first step toward changing the law, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announcing it would examine  “driving behavior and lane change maneuver execution” in cars with traditional mirrors and cars with camera systems, reported Reuters.

At least one aftermarket supplier is already developing a vehicle specific side camera. Rydeen showed at CES last January a side camera for the Acura NSX (shown above).

But a change in US law is at least 2 years away, a former senior executive at NHTSA, Christopher Bonanti, now CEO of The Baluster Group, told us.

NHTSA will test the performance characteristics of the cameras including glare, responsiveness and effectiveness and will determine if the cameras are equal to the performance of mirrors, he said.

If the agency allows cameras to replace mirrors it will be a “non-significant rule,” and therefore will not have to go through the Office of Management and Budget, said Bonanti.  But the process will still take time as NHTSA must first issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) after the agency completes its research and testing, which could take 1 to 2 years.  Then it must provide a comment period of approximately 45-90 days where the public and industry can submit comments.  Finally, after the agency considers the comments, it may make adjustments to the proposal and then issue a Final Rule, Bonanti said.

Aftermarket suppliers said that the attention to new camera technology could help drive customers into stores.

Car companies are already experimenting with side cameras in Europe and Japan. VW began selling the Audi e-tron with side cameras in Europe in December. And Toyota began selling a Lexus ES with side cameras in Japan last year

Honda will make the technology standard on its Honda e due in Europe later this year or early next year, according to Reuters.


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