Japan Says Yes To Mirrorless Cars

As car designers went to great lengths in order to hide or eliminate the need of wing mirrors in concept cars (throughout the years), in the real world, things evolved differently.

As opposed to the unobtrusive camera lenses that replaced the conventional elements in show cars, manufacturers began to offer bigger and bigger side mirrors in order to help the driver see better behind and to the sides of the vehicle, while respecting safety standards.

It’s clear that, at one point, glass mirrors will be a thing of the past, as companies will drop them in favor of video screens, but until then, they’ll have to wait for the legislation to change.

Last month, however, the idea came closer to reality in Japan, which became one of the first countries to allow vehicles to use cameras instead of mirrors, as AutoNews reports.

“Video mirrors” will (probably) evolve into a huge marketplace for tech businesses and suppliers, as the Land of the Rising Sun gave Japanese companies a head start by allowing mirrorless vehicles.

Apart from becoming a profitable industry, camera-based systems have many real-world advantages as well. They can reduce drag, improve fuel efficiency and even improve the looks of a vehicle; all this while capturing a wide angle view that can see blind spots. They can also improve visibility by digitally compensating for glare, darkness or even rainy weather.

Ichikoh will be one of the first suppliers to offer digital mirrors, as its first product will be an interior rear-view mirror that has a double function. Named the Smart Rear View Monitor, it entered production June 28 for a customer that will use it in a vehicle that goes on sale in Japan in August, although Ichikoh identified the customer only as a Japanese carmaker with plans to use the video monitor in a mid-range, low-volume nameplate.

PHOTO GALLERY

  • Zed68

    Great… but it’s also one more thing to go wrong.

    • John Ridley

      It’s probably more likely that you’ll hit and break an old style mirror than these will malfunction. I see cars with broken side mirrors a lot.

      • tchdab1

        What’ll happen first: that we won’t be driving ourselves at all and so won’t need visual mirrors, or that the visual/reflective mirrors will be replaced by video screens?

  • joey

    Improve the looks of a vehicle? I beg to differ. To me it’s like they’re missing something; like people without pinnas/ear flaps.

  • GOOD START. LET’S HOPE IMPLEMENTATION IS WELL THOUGHT OUT.
    SCREENS CLOSE TO THE DRIVER, ABILITY TO PAN/ADJUST ETC.

    • Beelzaboot teriaksun

      AND THE ABILITY TO WRITE WITHOUT CAPS, THAT WOULD BE AN AWESOME FEATURE

  • Ilbirs

    Considering that Japanese tax policy takes overall dimensions at count, maybe some makers could take some advantage of mirrorless cars even if the width considered is without mirrors. Maybe models designed since the beginning to have cameras instead of mirrors can have their sides even flatter than now, improving roominess without going beyond the limits that pay less taxes (1.48 m if kei jidosha, 1.7 m if Class 5) in the archipelago law even if, repeating again, the width is of the body itself without mirrors.

  • InCotexM 3

    I knew this was coming. Hopefully it will say as an option.

    • jrb

      WHY DID YOU NOT TELL US SOONER OH MIGHTY SAGE!!! ;-D

  • btc909

    640×480 resolution?

  • kachuks

    Watching traffic zoom by on a mirror and a screen is two different things. Moving objects on a screen seems much more distracting to me. Does anyone else get the same effect?

  • fabri99

    My mum doesn’t even trust what she sees in mirrors and therefore turns her head every single time like a owl. Do you really expect here to put her life in the hands of a camera when she doesn’t even believe in “reflection”?

  • danno

    That design looks like a great way to do major harm to pedestrians – like a scythe.
    Not sure if it is a concept or production item.

    Also, where would the screen be placed? Base of A pillars – each side makes sense, but can the screen be made big enough given the location?

    I would not be a fan of the image being projected on the main nav screen center dash, it is just counter intuitive, and yes I know Honda has a partial implementation doing that today.

  • Socarboy

    A far cry from those 1970s Datsuns & Toyotas with fender mounted mirrors that were sold in the Japanese market.

  • Neil Ghu

    And as usual the US lags behind. This feature has few if any drawbacks and many more benefits. It’s time for NHTSA and the DOT to get their heads out of the sand and let manufacturers/technology make better/safer cars.