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Time has come to look beyond mirrors: Benz

Aerodynamicists' chief bug-bear should be scrapped, if only legislative hurdles can be overcome Europe will permit car companies to fit cars with reverse-facing cameras in lieu of external mirrors from as early as 2016.

And in one fell swoop that will remove the primary obstacle facing automotive aerodynamicists in the 21st Century, according to Mercedes-Benz engineer Mark Eiselt.

In addition to significant gains in aerodynamic efficiency, replacing mirrors with cameras would almost certainly eliminate blind spots and improve safety. The technology in a nascent form already exists, in the case of blind spot monitoring.

But it's always a supplement to the mirrors and the cameras merely trigger warning lights in the cabin, rather than displaying a full-colour picture of what's taking place behind and obliquely. Reversing cameras do display a wide-angle picture and are frequently safer than rear-view mirrors alone.

It's definitely an idea with legs, but Herr Eiselt had no answer as to the cost or complexity of building the same car on the same production line for two different market collectives, only one of which allows small cameras in lieu of mirrors.

Presumably it becomes a case of seeking global harmonisation for the technology and like all such endeavours will take time and cost the company plenty to appease both sides.

Published: Monday, March 25, 2013

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