JDM 2019 ES Models Will Get Cameras Instead of Mirrors
Daily Slideshow: We've had cameras helping us park for years. Why not also have cameras helping us monitor lanes, instead of mirrors? Well, that's just what Lexus has done with the latest ES in Japan.
My mirror isn't broken officer, it's a camera
An idea so simple and appropriate that it is utterly amazing that nobody else has bothered doing it earlier. Camera resolution and video streaming have been advancing at a terrific rate and Lexus now becomes the first manufacturer to offer cameras, instead of traditional wing mirrors.
The new tech debuts on its ES range and will initially only be available in Japan. Lexus calls it the ‘Digital Outer Mirror’ system and it consists of two rear-facing camera pods, which relays a field view to corresponding 5-inch screens in the cabin. How will they stay clear in snow or rainy conditions? Lexus says they’ve anticipated those issues and the cameras are mounted in a specially shaped molding, shielding the lens from the elements.
Wing mirrors are largely by nature rather aerodynamically inefficient, which increases drag. And greater drag means slightly worse fuel consumption.
Even more bothersome, is the noise issue. A. wing mirror is mounted next to the A-pillar which means it reverberates noise in close proximity to the driver. Wing mirrors are the bane of car designers and engineers, a blot on their desire for a clean surface aesthetic and true aerodynamic efficiency. The Lexus camera system is smaller, sleeker and therefore more efficient and quieter.
Where you would expect it to be
With the ES camera system, Lexus has not tried to mess with traditional cabin ergonomics or driver behavior. The image recorded from those outboard cameras are relayed to five-inch screens which are where you’d ordinarily scan for lane changing confirmation.
In fact, with those screens mounted inside, a few inches closer than a conventional wing mirror would be, you need to avert your eyes a little less to get all the visual information you require. The A-pillar is a natural reference anchor for any driver, and Lexus has mounted its screens, at a slight angle towards the driver, at the base of those foremost roof pillars.
Responding to your intentions
One of the great annoyances of a wing mirror is having to adjust it. Especially when you are attempting to back out from a narrow parking bay - or someone much shorter or taller has driven before you take the helm.
Lexus has you covered with the ES camera system, which recognizes what you are trying to do, from gear selection, steering angle and throttle input. Calculating your intentions, it adapts the camera angle, to show you the best possible point of view.
This is especially effective on crowded highways, where the field of view can be adjusted to greatly reduce the dreaded rear three-quarter blind spot.
Less dazzle at night
Mirrors don’t really work that great at night. If you shine a light upon them, they dazzle and reflect the light, instead of forming a coherent image tracing and defining that light source.
That’s why wing mirrors aren’t excellent at being your rear-view reference point driving at night, when other drivers are approaching at speed, with their high beams on. The Lexus camera system provides a great solution as it can adjust the camera sensitivity, thereby brightening the image relayed a driver. This means you see a clearer image of what is approaching, without any of the blinding dazzle or glare associated with a traditional reflective surface.
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