Digital camera system could replace rear-vision mirrors

WASHINGTON – Federal regulators are considering a request by Stoneridge Inc. to allow commercial motor vehicles to use the company’s new MirrorEye Camera Monitor System as an alternative to rear-vision mirrors.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced in the Federal Register that it would accept public comments through May 7 on Stoneridge’s request that the MirrorEye be allowed to serve as a substitute for the two rear-vision mirrors, one on each side of the vehicle, currently required by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Stoneridge said the system meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards, which are cross-referenced by the FMCSRs, and “meets or exceeds the performance requirements for traditional mirrors.”

The company said the system consists of multiple digital cameras mounted on the exterior of the CMV and enclosed in an aerodynamic package that provides both environmental protection for the cameras and a mounting location for optimal visibility.        Each camera has video processing software that presents a high-definition image to the driver by means of a monitor mounted to each A-pillar of the CMV — the structural member between the windshield and door.

The company explained that attaching the monitors to the A-pillars avoids the creation of incremental blind spots while eliminating the blind spots associated with conventional mirrors.

The MirrorEye system features a 12.3-inch-high definition display on the driver’s left and a 15-inch display on the right. In the middle top of the window is another display, giving the driver complete visibility from five to six cameras mounted on the vehicle.

The displays show blind spots as well as the entire length of the trailer or bus in full color. The cameras, which are heated for easy defrosting, are shielded from the weather to ensure a clear view.

The system also features an advanced image handling system that adjusts visibility in direct sunlight so drivers are not blinded and can continue to see clearly.

The MirrorEye system currently is being used in Europe and the company has been testing it in the U.S.

“We have been conducting MirrorEye CMS fleet trials for the past year as we prepare to launch in North America,” said Stephen Fox, vice president, business development, at Stoneridge. “After conducting very successful fleet trials with some of the top safety fleets in North America, we are prepared to offer this advanced vision and safety solution to a greater number of fleets for evaluation.”

Benefits such as blind spot reduction, night vision, trailer panning, expanded fields of view and high definition camera and display technology have been very well received by fleet test drivers, Fox said.

“We understand that each fleet is unique, however, they all share safety as a common goal,” he said. “We recognize the importance of providing fleets with the opportunity to evaluate MirrorEye CMS. The benefits of the MirrorEye vision system when compared to traditional mirrors are tangible and the number of fleets expressing interest is rapidly increasing.”

The company said that while North American fleets are currently legally required to have physical mirrors, the aerodynamics of removing them in European trucks and buses has demonstrated a fuel cost savings of roughly 2 to 3 percent per year.

In the Federal Register notice, Stoneridge listed the following safety factors its MirrorEye provides:

  • Greater field of view (FOV) than conventional mirrors – Mirrors are replaced by wide angle, narrow angle and lookdown cameras expanding the FOV by an estimated 25 percent.
  • Fail-safe design – The CMS has independent video processing of multiple camera images so that in the unlikely event of an individual camera failure, the other camera images continue to be displayed. This ensures that real-time images are continuously displayed without interruption.
  • Augmented and enhanced vision quality – The use of high-definition digital cameras provides for color night vision, low light sensitivity and trailer panning capabilities. This assists with night driving, operating under other low lighting conditions, and provides for glare reduction.
  • Trailer panning – The CMS automatically tracks the end of the trailer to keep it in view while the vehicle is moving forward. Stoneridge believes this feature could eliminate collisions associated with the CMV driver making a right-hand turn, and incidents where the CMV strikes a pedestrian or bicyclist while making right-hand turns.

“Stoneridge also believes use of its CMS may help to reduce driver fatigue by requiring less head movement by drivers compared to the number of head movement needed to use conventional mirrors,” the company said.


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