NHTSA Approves Rearview Mirror Camera Found On Chevrolet Bolt & Cadillac CT6 PHEV

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 50

Cadillac's Mirror/Camera Tech

Cadillac’s Mirror/Camera Tech

Department of Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the NHTSA approved the mirror/screen (as seen above in the Cadillac CT6) for use in road-going vehicles. This appears to be a small step towards getting rid of sideview mirrors, which would enhance aerodynamics significantly.

Foxx made the announcement while speaking to NPR‘s Robert Siegel.

Autoblog followed up on the story by reaching out to Foxx for clarification. Foxx stated (via Twitter):

@AutoblogGreen @NPR#NHTSA has OK’d GM rear-view system that can switch between mirror & camera views.

According to Autoblog, the Chevrolet Bolt makes use of a similar mirror/camera system, though it’s not yet known if that setup will be in the production Bolt EV.  Update:  This mirror/camera system is confirmed as an option on the 2017 Volt EV – no pricing has yet been announced.

Video (below): GM mirrior supplier Gentek on the tech (via Autoblog):

Here’s the full release from the NHTSA (click to enlarge):

NHTSA Release

NHTSA Release

If you recall, BMW showed off a mirrorless i8 at CES in Las Vegas this year. It now seems a system such as the one found in that i8 is one step closer to being legal for on-road use.

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50 responses to "NHTSA Approves Rearview Mirror Camera Found On Chevrolet Bolt & Cadillac CT6 PHEV"

  1. Elroy says:

    They should definitely use technology to get rid of blindspot in side view mirrors. Or at least make electronic blind spot intervention mandatory. It scares me to death thinking about these SUV moving right into my lane an pushing me into a wall. Can you imagine if tractor trailers could have sensors in their trailers?

    1. Elroy says:

      Ah, I just read its not going to be able to replace side view mirrors. I really think it should be designed to switch to a wide angle side view soon as you switch the turn signal to that particular side, while still showing a small picture of the rear view. The possibilities…..

      1. ffbj says:

        The problem is that electronics can fail and then your sole mirror goes dark.

        1. Mr. m says:

          Mirrors can break and then your picture is not available too. If the electronics are redundant the risk can made small enough regarding the electronics.

          1. Spider-Dan says:

            …mirrors don’t work that way.

            A mirror with a crack in it doesn’t “go dark.”

          2. Mxs says:

            When I’d your mirror break the last time????

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          ffbj said:

          “The problem is that electronics can fail and then your sole mirror goes dark.”

          Exactly.

          For the GM cars in question, the rear camera can be thought of as a backup for the old-fashioned, reliable mirror that has no electronics to fail. I don’t see that this supports the assertion that this takes us “one step closer” to regulators allowing cameras to replace side mirrors.

          1. Lindsay Patten says:

            Don’t many vehicles now have folding side view mirrors? Could that be the backup if the camera failed?

            1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              How do they “fold”? If it’s like the folding side mirrors in the Tesla Model X, they’re simply hinged to fold inward somewhat toward the body. That helps prevent damage to the car when parked, but doesn’t do much otherwise.

              The reason that auto makers want to replace side mirrors with cameras is because side mirrors make a significant addition to wind resistance at highway speed. So for ultra-streamlined cars, auto makers would like to eliminate them. See, for example, the VW XL1, which has cameras in place of side mirrors (photo linked below).

              Unless the “folding” mirror actually folds into the body of the car, that’s not going to help reduce wind resistance as much as auto designers would like.

              1. JoeS. says:

                Providing a rear-view mirror that folds completely into the car’s body as a ‘backup’ for a failed camera would perhaps be a compelling reason to get NHTSA off it’s tail performing interminable “analyses” and approve this technology.

                Until I got obsessed with aerodynamics, for over 50 years my blind spot mitigator has been a slightly-convex Lucas mirror mounted way forward on each front fender. Minimal eye movement to see each side lane – with ABSOLUTELY no blind spot!

        3. sault says:

          Electronics can fail and your headlight or turn signal can go out. Or your dashboard. Redundancy in safety critical systems is the norm and this wold be no different.

    2. Koenigsegg says:

      I’ve never seen a blindspot while driving

      I see every vehicle

      Then again you people probably dont have 16 years of heavy video game experience like me….

      Thats extreme hand eye coordination and overall visibility with my eyes

      1. Mister G says:

        LOL..I rarely crash when plowing over zombies in DEAD ISLAND

  2. ffbj says:

    I always add a small fish eye to each of my side view mirrors.

    1. M Hovis says:

      I wonder how much cost it would add to a vehicle to add pop out mirrors? That way the driver has a choice and you have a backup if the electronics fail. I would go for something that pops open and snaps shut like the fuel port. Might take a little more engineering than that but not much.

      Pretty soon the sensors are going to be more important than the mirrors whether people like it or not. How did the movie line go? “What’s behind me is not important.”

      1. evcarnut says:

        What’s behind is not Important ??? 0K, You must have never gotten Rear Ended.Lucky for you! I avoided being rear ended more than a few times by keeping my eyes on the rearview mirror , and got out of the way, just in time . When I realized the guy behind me couldn’t/wasn’t going stop.

    2. Koenigsegg says:

      You are of one of those guys…..

  3. Edward Arthur says:

    These rear view cameras get covered in grime in the winters where salt is used.

    1. John says:

      And just like windshield wipers were invented to keep the windows clear enough to see out, some smart engineer somewhere will invent a way to keep the camera lens clean enough to see out.

      More people need to start thinking “What if…” instead of trying to poke holes in everything.

      1. fotomoto says:

        “More people need to start thinking “What if…” instead of trying to poke holes in everything.”

        Speaking of poking holes, I bet a lot of folks on the Titanic would have wanted more “what if” questions to have been asked before being built.

        The bolt design is elegant with a tried and true mechanical backup ready at a flip of the switch (lever actually).

        1. Koenigsegg says:

          There is nothing “elegant” about the Bolt. Its an ugly POS dork mobile

          Model S and Aston Martin’s are “elegant”

          no chevy is “elegant” ROFL!

          1. Ziv says:

            The Bolt is a compact car with mid-sized car passenger cabin volume. It is a very cool looking car if you aren’t looking at it with anti-GM blinders.
            There is no other 200+ mile AER on the near horizon. When the III is less than a year out, then we can talk about it as being competition for the Bolt, but we will see Bolts on dealer lots in around 9 months.
            The III?
            Be patient.

            1. Trollnonymous says:

              “There is no other 200+ mile AER on the near horizon.”

              I’m guessing you meant “There is no other 200+ mile AER ‘COMPACT CAR’ on the near horizon.”

              1. ziv says:

                Point taken! I think I left out the critical, self-centered, “…that I can afford!” or “under $40k MSRP”.
                Yeah, the Tesla S fills the “200+ mile hwy AER under $80k MSRP” role QUITE nicely! If I could afford a Tesla, I wouldn’t be waiting for the Bolt!
                😉

          2. fotomoto says:

            The topic du jour is electronic mirrors not car design. Read my statement again. Thx.

    2. John says:

      I stand corrected. Some smart engineer somewhere will not invent a self cleaning camera. It’s already been done.

      By Nissan.

      In 2013.

      http://www.carscoops.com/2013/06/nissan-debuts-intelligent-self-cleaning.html

  4. evcarnut says:

    Government motors can get any BS passed. With a little grease..

    1. kdawg says:

      You think this technology is BS? Seems pretty sweet to me. Expect others to copy.

      1. Josh says:

        I am with kdawg, this is the biggest improvement in rearview technology in the last 100 years. You can argue back-up camera, but that is only limited use. Tesla augmented that by making the backup camera available while driving. This is a much better solution by integrating the camera (with a wider view angle) into the conventional line of sight for rear view.

        The lessons learned here (for designers and regulators) gives us a path forward on moving to an all camera based driver awareness system.

        1. TomArt says:

          Ford did this about 4+ years ago – when you shift the vehicle into reverse, a display of the camera view shows up on one half of the rear-view mirror. I saw it first on their F-150.

          The Model S has an option to have the rear-view camera on all the time and displayed on the center touchscreen. I found that to be handy during my test drive because the visibility through the rear view mirror is terrible – the small rear window and the back seat head rests significantly compromise the sightlines.

          But then, that might be true of a lot of sedans. I’ve been driving a mid-sized SUV for 6 years now, and I’m spoiled by the visibility (2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid). Even then, I have to remove the rear seat headrests in order to see well.

  5. Mark says:

    I think the key is you can flip it back to normal mirror when camera blocked…. Tesla no side mirrors you couldn’t do that.

  6. Loboc says:

    So basically the gov’t is saying that since it has a ‘normal mirror’ default mode it’s ok?

    I’d like to see one of these in action. Seems to me it would be disorienting to have a video of the reverse angle in my face. Maybe even stomach churning.

    1. 2013VOLT says:

      How would it be any different than looking into a normal mirror?

  7. bro1999 says:

    I’m surprised this tech hasn’t made it into a car sooner. Makes so much sense. I could full my (future) Bolt’s hatch from top to bottom, and still have awesome visibility out the rear with the flip of a switch.

    1. Sausage Factory says:

      One could also orient the mirror to enable a quick check on the kids in back, with the rear view camera display available with a flick of the lever.

  8. Speculawyer says:

    UGH. Replace the SIDE MIRRORS with cameras. It is the side mirrors that have the blind spot and the side mirrors cause lots of drag.

    1. Maybe the Side Mirrors should be designed as part of a pair of side view technology items, kind of like the old top/bottom split doors, such that the bottom is a small camera wing, but the Mirror is in the upper portion that retracts above 30 MPH, but can be manually extended at drivers whim.

      Maybe the camera wing part could be about 3/4″ to 1″ thick, shaped like a airfoil, with the camera at the tip of it, and the mirror made strong enough that it could simply hinge up from the front edge if needed, but played down in normal video operationall mode. That keeps the body lines clean, and doesn’t need a space in the door to retract the mirror portion into!

      Transparent Aluminum is actual (I did the research, and linked the sources on the Model X reveal story, it’s a ceramic material, actually!), and both incredibly strong and scratch resistant, and could make a great material for a flip up mirror like this.

      1. Josh says:

        I have been brainstorming in the exact same lines since Tesla claimed they were turned down by NHTSA for the Model X camera mirrors.

        I will provide a simplified analogy to the Bolt rearview mirror.

        The side view mirrors are “normally” folded in, like most side view mirrors are capable of for parking situations. In the folded in position, there is a camera pointing toward the back of the vehicle that provides the digital side view. There would need to be a corresponding display in the cabin of the vehicle.

        If the camera became in-operable, the mirror could be folded out to provide an optical, line of sight rear view, like is standard now. Since this would be a backup measure, the size of the required optical mirror could be reduced, making the entire assembly much smaller than standard now.

        Combine that with a normally folded configuration and you will get a significant drag reduction on all vehicles, EV or otherwise.

        1. Josh says:

          My simplified analogy just became longer than your description. #fail

  9. Trollnonymous says:

    A new place to stick your gum on…….the camera lens!

  10. Jeff Songster says:

    I think these electronic ones are great… but the camera stalks should have tiny mirrors so that when direct sunlight obscures camera you can see some small indication of the areas next to the car. I love the all around cameras in our LEAFs… but sometimes the lights and water droplets can obscure them in ways that mirrors in the car are immune to.

    1. DonC says:

      I understand the point. However, you can switch between a standard mirror and the camera view so that should help.

  11. Yoyodyn says:

    Isn’t there a way to use a prism that is more flush with the exterior but provides an image inside? So it doesn’t fail, but doesn’t affect aero so much?

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Interesting idea.

      You can build a periscope that way, with pretty small prism mirrors, but you get a good view only by holding it up to your eye. Unfortunately that’s not gonna work for a side mirror, which you can’t hold up to your eye while driving.

      Using optical enlargement and projecting it onto a screen, or into a larger mirror, so the image would be large enough to see, would unfortunately make the image far darker. That’s a basic limitation of the light-gathering properties of optics.

      But I applaud your attempt to “Think outside the box”.

  12. DonC says:

    “According to Autoblog, the Chevrolet Bolt makes use of a similar mirror/camera system, though it’s not yet known if that setup will be in the production Bolt V.”

    So funny. From the Bolt EV website: “This available innovative rearview mirror technology projects a wide-angle view of the area behind the vehicle in the inside rearview mirror.”

    What part of “available” don’t we understand? LOL

  13. DonC says:

    The technology is running far ahead of people’s ability to adjust. With blind spot warning, a step on the way to autonomous driving, you don’t need to even look in the mirror.

    For those worried about electronic failure there is a simple backup solution: Turn head.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I guess you never learned the purpose of side mirrors, also called “blind spot” mirrors. In most cars, the pillars inside the car block the view to the left and right rear… hence blind spots.

      Have you ever actually driven a car?

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        “In most cars, the pillars inside the car block the view to the left and right rear… hence blind spots.”

        Isn’t that what side mirrors are for?

        If you adjust your side mirror outward enough, you shouldn’t have any blind spots to the rear pillar anymore. The only “blind spot” is left are basically next to you instead of “behind you to the side”…

        Try it.

        I leave my car parked and adjust my side mirrors to the outward position until I can see everything behind me except just a small area to the side of my B pillar.

        You can duplicate that with some help with other people…

        The down side is that you won’t be able to see yourself in the side mirror or your own car’s side panel which isn’t important until you need to parallel parking which you can move later as needed.

  14. DL says:

    Is it just me or is that NHTSA letter one of the worst examples of technical writing ever? Apparently the letter from GM’s Brian Latouf must have been just as bad since neither party seemed to understand what the other was asking.