On the heels of the recent announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation that all new vehicles in the U.S. will be required to have rear visibility technology by May 2018, comes Tesla Motors claiming they soon expect to repalce all side-view mirrors with cameras.
While safety is at the heart of the Tesla claim, the company also explains better aerodynamics and greater fuel efficiency are major factors as well.
Beyond Tesla's push, the rest of the auto industry has been dabbling in design concepts that ditch side-view mirrors for several years now. Most of the major companies have felt side-view mirrors are an impractical and design nightmare, as they stick out from either side of the car ruining the sleek look they are attempting to achieve and increase drag that subsequently drains fuel.
The industry has been hoping the NHTSA, now that rear-view cameras will eventually become standard, will soon take the next step and make side-view cams mandatory as well.
Earlier this week, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an organization that represents many foreign and domestic automakers, issued a statement in response to NHTSA's decision.
"Today, the Alliance is petitioning NHTSA to allow automakers to use cameras as an option to the conventional side-view and rearview mirrors. Today's mirrors provide a robust and simple means to view the surrounding areas of a vehicle. Cameras will open opportunities for additional design flexibility and innovation. This idea has been in development since the 1990s, when the U.S. Department of Energy partnered with automakers to produce an energy-efficient concept car with cameras instead of side-view mirrors."
Future in-car technology has been a hot topic of late and among the innovative tech coming to the auto industry are vehicles equipped with sensors that let cars warn each other if they're plunging toward a potential accident. The sensors, still some years off, has "game-changing potential" to reduce collisions, deaths and injuries, federal transportation officials said at a news conference earlier this month.
This particular technology, a radio signal basically, would continually transmit a vehicle's position, heading, speed and other information. Cars and light trucks would receive the same information back from other cars, and a vehicle's computer would alert its driver to an impending collision. Alerts could be a flashing message, an audible warning, or a driver's seat that rumbles. Some systems might even automatically brake to avoid an accident if manufacturers choose to include that option.
In lieu of the negative news surrounding the Toyota and GM recalls the past few weeks, all of the above is welcome news for everyone who drives a car.