No more letting Europe and Japan have the best technology.
The United States has some pretty draconian safety laws regarding new vehicles, which prevent many new technologies from gaining approval for production. Adaptive laser headlights, for example, are not allowed because of a law passed in 1967. Another technology that has yet to be approved is cameras in place of traditional mirrors. Many concept cars, like the Honda e, use door-mounted cameras in lieu of mirrors. But when these cars reach production, they almost always ditch the cameras. Luckily, that might soon change as Reuters reports the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will test the technology for future approval.
The NHTSA said it will examine "driving behavior and lane change maneuver execution" in cars with traditional mirrors compared to cars with camera-based systems. Back in 2014, General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Tesla formed an alliance to petition for the NHTSA to allow these systems in the US. The Lexus ES became the first production car to offer this feature earlier this year, though it is not available on the US-spec car. The Audi E-tron also offers this feature but, again, not in the US.
Replacing mirrors with cameras has multiple benefits for automakers and consumers.
Some of these benefits include better aerodynamics (and less wind noise), increased fuel economy, improved visibility, and reduced weight. With less surface area cutting through the air, cars can be more efficient while also providing more forward and rearward visibility. Not to mention getting rid of side mirrors pays dividends in terms of styling.
These systems are "an example of where automotive technology is ahead of the legislative curve" in the United States, said Mark Dahncke, an Audi of America spokesman. This is just one of many areas where the US lags behind the rest of the world in terms of automotive safety technology and we hope the NHTSA will approve mirrorless systems in the near future. If the NHTSA does grant approval, there are plenty of companies that could take advantage right away.