Because of the way today’s vehicles, including SUVs, crossover vehicles, and even sedans, are configured, being able to see or visualize to the rear when backing up or backing out of a parking space often requires measures that surpass the capability of rear-view mirrors. This is more than a convenience issue, it’s a serious safety issue. We have seen many instances of screen-based back-up camera systems that activate when the vehicle is put in reverse. Often, these systems depend on buying a navigation system, in order to have the screen. However, even these camera systems do not show space to the sides of a vehicle, hence walls, people, or objects which may be in the path of a turning vehicle. Nor do they show people or objects which may be in front of a vehicle.
Nissan’s corporate commitment to innovating safety features led them to want to go beyond this sort of commonly available back-up imaging capability. They wanted a screen-based image that gave a clear view of all the space surrounding the vehicle, not just the space to the rear. Enlisting suppliers Xanavi (screen-based electronics and central control modules) and Sony (very high capability cameras) resulted in the innovation, the Around View Monitor (AVM). This gives the effect of a “bird’s-eye view” camera, as though a real camera were suspended above the vehicle, looking down.
The innovation uses four very wide-angle cameras developed by Sony. The camera-gathered information is very dense, and required Xanavi to develop very fast and effective signal processing and correction in order to put an image combining the views of the four cameras into a recognizable moving picture on the screen in real enough time.
The Around View Monitor shows in split screen a 360˚ view of space around the vehicle and, when the vehicle is in reverse, a rearward view indicating directional path. When the vehicle proceeds forward, the driver can select a 360˚ view and a forward view with directional path. Both images are displayed side by side, so the driver can see walls, obstacles, or humans anywhere around the vehicle as he proceeds.
Initial appearance of the Around View Monitor in the United States came with the new 2008 Infiniti Ex. This innovation is a differentiating feature in Infiniti’s advertising.