The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has granted Vision Systems North America Inc. a five-year exemption to permit its Smart-Vision camera system to be installed in place of the two rear-vision mirrors required by federal regulations.
“The Agency has determined that granting the exemption to allow use of the Smart-Vision system in lieu of mirrors would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety provided by the regulation,” FMCSA stated in the decision published Jan. 15.
The exemption is effective Jan. 15, 2020, through Jan. 15, 2025. The system was developed by Vision Systems in Brignais, France.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require “that each bus, truck, and truck tractor be equipped with two rear-vision mirrors, one at each side. The mirrors must be positioned to reflect to the driver a view of the highway to the rear and the area along both sides of the commercial motor vehicle,” the agency explained.
“The Smart-Vision system consists of multiple digital cameras firmly mounted high on the exterior of the vehicle, enclosed in an aerodynamic package that provides both environmental protection for the cameras and a mounting location for optimal visibility. Each camera has proprietary video processing software that presents a clear, high-definition image to the driver by means of a monitor firmly mounted to each A-pillar of the CMV, i.e., the structural member between the windshield and door of the cab.”
According to Vision Systems, this mounting location “avoids the creation of incremental blind spots while eliminating the blind spots associated with conventional mirrors.”
In its request to FMCSA, the company said the Smart-Vision system “meets or exceeds the visibility requirements” in federal standards by providing a 25-percent increased field of view that enables drivers to see vehicles and pedestrians in the ‘‘No-Zone;’’ multiple lanes of traffic and overtaking vehicles entering the ‘‘No-Zone;’’ tire fires; and loose cargo straps, ropes or chains.
The manufacturers said the Smart-Vision system provides enhanced vision in inclement weather, low light and glare conditions.
FMCSA also noted that the system has a fail-safe design due to the “independent video processing of multiple camera images” and may reduce driver fatigue because it requires “less lateral head and eye movement by the driver due to the monitor location on the A-pillar.”
The system is used in Europe as a legal alternative to mirrors under ISO (International Organization for Standardization) requirements. According to VSNA, there are approximately 300 vehicles certified with the Smart-Vision system to date.
The reduced aerodynamic drag of the cameras, as compared to mirrors, can result in fuel savings of up to five percent, the company says.
The Smart-Vision system was displayed at Motorcoach EXPO in Nashville.
“These systems can be retrofitted to built coaches, and we also are talking to the OEMs about installing them as original equipment,” said Robin Bokilo, chief operating officer of Vision Systems North America in Melbourne, Florida.
“Even though this is a new product, here it has been in use in Europe for two years, so we have a lot of data,” she said. “Overwhelmingly, the operators of buses love it.”
And, she said, the cameras are less prone to collision damage. “The likelihood of a malfunction is a lot less because the cameras are much smaller than mirrors,” Bokilo said.
During Motorcoach EXPO in Nashville, Prevost announced that it would offer the system, branded as Prevost eMirror, “on customer orders for early adopters started mid-2020, with wider availability in 2021.”