Two North American companies — advanced electronics supplier Gentex Corp. and body structures and power technologies supplier Magna International — want to claim a stake in advanced driver-assistance systems by putting a modern twist on the century-old rearview mirror.
Both companies last week showed rearview mirrors that can switch from a traditional reflection to a panoramic live video display.
So-called camera monitoring systems are an emerging technology that some see as an eventual replacement for mirrors, but they are not entirely welcome in North America yet. The Gentex and Magna systems offer a compromise.
Some European and Asian countries allow camera monitoring systems to replace traditional rearview mirrors. But safety regulations in the U.S. and Canada require vehicles to have an inside mirror, as well as an outside driver-side mirror, to complement a camera system.
Regulators in North America "take a very conservative approach to changes for devices that are safety-related," Brad Bosma, Gentex vice president of vision systems, told Automotive News.
Using a hybrid approach, with a mirror that doubles as a digital display, allows automakers to offer state-of-the art vision technology while still complying with safety standards globally.
The Gentex Full Display Mirror uses three cameras and can stitch together views of the rear and sides of the vehicle.
Magna's Clearview system consists of two mirrors. The first is an inside mirror that, like Gentex's, can switch to video display mode. Outside, there's a sideview mirror with a camera mounted on it that sends a video feed to a screen inside the car, on the A-pillar. It can be installed on the driver or passenger side. The camera is mounted beyond the widest point of the vehicle to eliminate blind spots.
Magna also has a version of the technology, called the Clearview Camera Wing, that is only compliant in Europe and Japan.
It eliminates the outside mirror entirely in favor of a camera feed to the video screen.