Side Camera Mirror Systems: Future is Here

Daniel Mwangi
9 Min Read
Image of Lexus digital mirror

Side Camera Mirror Systems: Future is Here

Cutting Edge Innovation

Side camera mirror systems, a cutting-edge innovation in the automotive industry, are reshaping the way we see and interact with our vehicles. Traditional side mirrors have been a staple on vehicles for decades, but they come with their fair share of challenges and limitations. Side camera mirror systems, on the other hand, offer numerous benefits, but they also present some downsides and legal hurdles that need to be addressed.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of side camera mirror systems, examining their advantages, disadvantages, legal considerations, and the car manufacturers that are leading the charge in adopting this transformative technology.

Challenges and Limitations of Traditional Side Mirrors

By SeppVei - Own work, Public Domain,
  1. Distortion and Blind Zones: Traditional side mirrors can suffer from distortion, which affects the accuracy of what is seen in the reflection. Objects may appear closer or farther away than they actually are, potentially leading to misjudgments during lane changes or parking. Additionally, blind zones created by the mirror’s housing or angle can further exacerbate the issue, making it challenging to spot nearby obstacles.
  2. Visibility Impediments: Traditional mirrors can be obscured by factors such as rain, snow, dirt, or even insects, making it necessary for drivers to frequently adjust them or clean them to maintain proper visibility. This inconvenience can be particularly problematic during long journeys or in regions with unpredictable weather.
  3. Mirror Adjustments for Different Drivers: In vehicles shared by multiple drivers, each individual may need to adjust the side mirrors to suit their unique preferences and line of sight. Failing to do so can lead to discomfort and reduced safety if the mirrors are not optimally positioned for the driver’s height and seating position.
  4. Noise and Wind Resistance: The design of traditional side mirrors can generate wind noise and contribute to drag, especially at higher speeds. Reducing aerodynamic efficiency can impact both fuel economy and cabin comfort. In some cases, the noise created by wind passing over the mirrors can be distracting for the driver and passengers.
  5. Limited Technological Integration: Traditional side mirrors are unable to integrate advanced technological features. For instance, they cannot display additional information, such as navigation guidance or blind-spot monitoring, as is possible with side camera mirror systems that utilise digital displays.
  6. Lack of Feedback: Traditional mirrors provide minimal feedback to the driver about their surroundings. Side camera mirror systems often include features like distance markers or warning symbols that enhance driver awareness and safety.
  7. Ergonomics: The positioning of traditional mirrors might not be ideal for all drivers, leading to awkward body positions and neck strain when attempting to view the mirrors. This ergonomic discomfort can lead to reduced driving satisfaction, especially during long journeys.
  8. Vulnerable to Impact: Traditional side mirrors are exposed and vulnerable to impact from other vehicles, obstacles, or even careless pedestrians. This makes them more susceptible to damage, vandalism, or being knocked out of alignment, necessitating repairs or replacements.

Benefits of Side Camera Mirror Systems

By Ilya Varlamov - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
  1. Enhanced Safety: Side camera mirror systems provide a wider and more comprehensive field of view compared to traditional mirrors, significantly reducing blind spots. This can help prevent accidents when changing lanes or merging onto highways, making the roads safer for everyone.
  2. Adaptive Features: Some side camera mirror systems come with advanced features like lane-keeping assistance and automatic adjustment. These features can aid drivers in maintaining a steady lane position and ensuring their mirrors are correctly aligned, enhancing overall safety and convenience.
  3. Weather Resistance: Unlike traditional mirrors, side camera systems are less affected by adverse weather conditions. They can adapt to various scenarios, such as rain, snow, or fog, ensuring that drivers have clear visibility at all times.
  4. Aerodynamic Benefits: The sleek design of side camera mirror systems contributes to improved aerodynamics, reducing wind resistance and potentially increasing fuel efficiency. This benefit aligns with the automotive industry’s push for more eco-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Cons of Side Camera Mirror Systems

  1. Cost: The installation and repair of side camera mirror systems can be more expensive than traditional mirrors. The technology involved, such as high-quality cameras and displays, can drive up the initial cost of the vehicle. Repairs can also be pricier due to the specialised components.
  2. Vulnerability to Damage: In accidents or minor collisions, side camera systems can be more vulnerable to damage than traditional mirrors. Repairing or replacing these systems can be complex and costly.
  3. Driver Adjustment: Drivers accustomed to traditional mirrors may take some time to adapt to the new system. Adjusting to camera displays and learning to trust the technology can lead to initial confusion or discomfort.
  4. Glare: Glare from the camera displays, especially at night, can affect the driver’s vision. Manufacturers are actively working on anti-glare technology to address this issue.
By Tokumeigakarinoaoshima - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The adoption of side camera mirror systems faces legal challenges in many regions due to established regulations that mandate the use of physical side mirrors. However, car manufacturers are actively working with regulatory bodies to ensure that the systems meet safety standards.

These efforts include lobbying for legal changes to permit the use of cameras in place of traditional mirrors while maintaining or improving safety levels.

Potential Improvements and Considerations

Car manufacturers are continuously exploring ways to improve side camera mirror systems. Some of the key considerations include:

  • Durability: To address concerns about vulnerability in accidents, manufacturers are researching and developing more durable materials and designs to protect the cameras and displays.
  • Impact Resistance: Enhanced impact resistance can ensure that side camera mirror systems can withstand minor collisions without significant damage, reducing repair costs.
  • Anti-Glare Technology: Implementing anti-glare technology in camera displays can mitigate the issue of glare, particularly at night, and make the system more user-friendly.
  • Driver Education: Manufacturers are also focusing on educating drivers about the advantages and proper use of the systems to facilitate a smooth transition and minimise any discomfort during the adjustment period.

Car Manufacturers Offering Side Camera Mirror Systems

By Tokumeigakarinoaoshima - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Several prominent car manufacturers have embraced side camera mirror systems and have integrated them into their vehicle models. As technology continues to evolve and gain acceptance, we can expect more manufacturers to follow suit. Tesla, Audi, and Lexus are among the pioneers in adopting this technology, with systems that combine cameras with displays inside the vehicle to replace traditional mirrors.

These manufacturers are setting the stage for a future where the systems become a standard feature, offering enhanced safety and driving experiences to consumers.

Final Glance

In conclusion, side camera mirror systems represent a significant advancement in vehicle safety and design, but their widespread adoption is not without its challenges. As technology improves and regulations evolve, we can anticipate a future where these systems become a standard feature in vehicles, enhancing safety and the overall driving experience.

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