Audi to install digital rear-view mirror on Le Mans 24 Hours-bound R18s

Article by Anita Panait, on May 25, 2012

Audi will install digital rear-view mirrors on the closed LMP sports prototypes that will be used by the company’s factory drivers at the upcoming Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16 and 17, 2012.  The digital rear-view mirror is a special technology that enhances vision of drivers inside the cockpit as it provides them with a clear view of the rear.

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport, praised the line-up of 13 sports car drivers, saying that their work in the cockpit is “truly heavy labor." Ullrich said that quick drivers have to endure physical and mental strain in endurance racing as well as the different vision offered by a closed LMP sports car. In sharp contrast to Audi’s A5 DTM cars, the company’s closed LMP sports cars do not have rear windows and drivers are fixed on an extremely low, central seating position.

The structure of the monocoque as well as the configuration of the mid-engine in the Audi R18 do not permit for the installation of a rear window, forcing LMP drivers to rely on the outside mirrors to get a view of the rear. Dr. Ulrich cited the disadvantage of this setup, saying that the rear end and the rear wings as well as the vibrations that occur at high speeds “significantly limit the field of vision of these mirrors." 

With the given problem, Audi worked hard to achieve a viable solution, and developed a technology that would amazingly fix the problem -- the digital rear-view mirror. The digital rear-view mirror allows drivers to have a better look of the cars’ rear through an AMOLED display than any conventional mirror. Videos are fed from a lightweight and miniscule camera installed behind the antennas on the roof of the Audi R18. The videos are then transmitted to the cockpit as digitalized data. Live feeds of the Audi R18’s rear is displayed on a screen fitted where an inside mirror is typically placed.

"This gives us a whole host of benefits," stresses Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "The operation of the mirror is weather-neutral. By contrast, when using outside mirrors, heavy water spray severely impairs the driver’s field of vision when it rains. For the new digital mirror, we worked out various day and night driving modes. Even when a rival approaches from the rear with high-beam headlights the image is superb and not just a glaring light spot."

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