New camera angles and clever image processing can provide a driver with a panoramic view around the rear of their vehicle.
BMW has developed a new camera-based rearview mirror system that seeks to eliminate blind spots in your rearview mirrors caused by the bodywork of your car. A new patent discovered by CarBuzz and filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) reveals how BMW plans on using multiple cameras to create a synthesized rearview mirror image that lets you see through the bodywork of your car.
Similar to how another recent patent described camera systems that could let you change the view of your internal rearview camera, this new system from BMW proposes using multiple rear-facing camera angles and enhanced processing power to stitch together high-quality panoramic views devoid of blind spots, making reverse parking your BMW X7 easier than ever.
Think of this like Land Rover's 'see-through hood' or Toyota's off-road camera patent, but instead of turning the interior panels effectively transparent through various projections, it creates the impression of transparent body panels when you look in the rearview mirror.
The basic premise is a camera mounted in the traditional position of each wing mirror and a third rear-facing camera at the back of the car. All three images will be fed to a processing unit, which will distort the perspective of each view to create a single panoramic view, which can then be projected either onto a screen inside of the car or to a digital mirror housing in the traditional wing mirror position.
Because a portion of the image is computer generated, certain elements could be made semi-transparent. For example, looking at the driver's side mirror, the rear of the car could be shown in an outline as a means of positioning it while still being able to see what's behind it.
Unlike traditional 360-degree camera systems, which stitch together wide-angle views of cameras facing downward to create a bird's-eye view, this new design would rely on rear-facing cameras that give a better perspective of your surroundings.
These images are supported by proximity sensors, which can determine the distance between the camera and an object in its view. This input allows the image processor to accurately scale images from the different cameras, and present a composite image in the digital interior mirror that looks exactly as it would appear in the hypothetical case of a car with no roof or pillars to obstruct the view.
The scaled images are then merged from up to three different perspectives into a single and intuitive wide-angle view which can be displayed in the digital rear-view mirror. The displayed image is also adaptive, emphasizing the view in the direction in which the vehicle is moving during direction changes, and can ignore the image received from the side from which the vehicle is turning. The usual downward-facing side- and front cameras can remain in place to provide the normal 360-degree view around the vehicle, but this will disappear when the vehicle speed passes a predetermined threshold.
In a straight line and at speed, the image projected in the digital interior mirror will turn into a simple wide-angle view until a detected object justifies being highlighted, while driving at low speeds with large steering angles will highlight the vehicle's surrounding on the side in which direction the vehicle is moving. If the vehicle turns right, the left-rear side image disappears to give a larger panorama of the right-hand side, and vice versa.
The most obvious advantage of this system is its ability to eliminate blind spots, which will be particularly useful in commercial vehicles, which have to make do without rear- or rear-side glass, or in tall vehicles with limited side glass areas, such as large SUVs. Of greater importance is its ability to accurately portray a panoramic side-to-side view in low-speed maneuvers from a perspective to which drivers are already accustomed, with a more intuitive display format than current systems allow.
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