The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, otherwise known as the NHTSA, recently announced that it will look into camera mirrors as a viable replacement for traditional sideview mirrors. Camera-based sideview visibility systems are already in use overseas, but has yet to find regulatory backing here in the U.S.
For reference, the system basically swaps mirror-based sideview units with rear-facing cameras, which are mounted in roughly the same location as traditional sideview mirrors. The automotive camera mirrors are intended to provide greater rear visibility, as well as modest fuel economy gains thanks to a more aero-efficient design.
The NHTSA says it will test how drivers interact with the camera mirrors in order to determine whether they receive approval for use in U.S. models. According to a recent report from Reuters, the NHTSA will look at “driving behavior and lane change maneuver execution.”
The announcement follows a petition issued by several major automakers interested in the implementation of camera mirrors on upcoming U.S.-spec models, including General Motors, Volkswagen, Daimler, Toyota and Tesla. The petitions currently hold a pending status.
The NHTSA will begin its investigation with passenger vehicles, then move onto larger vehicles. Camera mirrors are particularly useful in vehicles with limited B-, C-, and D-pillar visibility, such as the Ford GT, as well as larger vehicles like the F-Series Super Duty line.
Camera mirrors have been a feature of choice on multiple concept vehicles over the years, especially those showcasing new electric powertrain technology and autonomous drive systems.
Of course, camera mirrors are already in use on roads in Europe and Japan.
This isn’t the first time the U.S has lagged with regard to new automobile technology adoption. Previous examples include smart headlight technology and laser headlights, both of which saw use overseas prior to investigation from and approval by the NHTSA.