Using cameras to replace the rear and side mirrors isn't something new. However, this technology is usually found on concept vehicles and some exotic cars. But at Lexus, this technology will be installed on one of its premium sedans starting October this year.
Lexus is introducing the world' first Digital Outer Mirrors, which will initially be fitted on the new 2019 Lexus ES. Digital Outer Mirrors make use of small exterior cameras on the front doors. They are mounted on stalks that swell on the place where conventional side mirrors are usually found.
The cameras send images onto displays – each monitor measuring five inches diagonally– inside the cabin, as positioned at the base of the front pillars. Instead of looking through the windows onto the side mirrors, a driver just have to view the images on the displays. This means that the driver’s view of the sides and the rear of the cars aren’t compromised when the windows are dirty or hazy.
Depending on where the turn signals are directed when activated, Lexus’ Digital Outer Mirrors would automatically enhance the corresponding area. If the turn signal points to the left, the view of area on this side of the car is automatically enhanced. The same thing happens when the turn signal is directed to the right. Moreover, when the transmission is put into reverse, the Digital Outer Mirrors will enhance the view to the rear.
In addition, the driver of the Lexus ES can manually enhance the view of areas around the car for the sake of getting complete peripheral awareness of the surrounding areas.
These Digital Outer Mirrors are shaped in a way that raindrops and snow won't accumulate, which means that the view of the driver is never compromised. Likewise, there won't be any side mirror that may blow the front windows, thereby providing better levels of visibility.
Aside from offering better views of the surroundings, the Digital Outer Mirrors boasts of a wind-cheating shape, resulting to reduced levels of wind noise and a quieter cabin.
According to Lexus, the Digital Outer Mirrors will only be available in the Lexus ES in the Japanese market starting late October. The reason for Japan-only availability is that regulations in the country allow for such technology, whereas in other countries, there could be legal problems with this new tech.
Lexus could be the first carmaker to offer exterior cameras on mass-produced vehicles, but it won't be alone in a long time. Audi is already planning to offer rearview cameras on the upcoming E-Tron Quattro electric SUV. Mercedes-Benz’s Actros heavy-truck has also gotten rid of side mirrors, replacing them with cameras.