Peeking at Audi's LED Rearview 'Mirror'
Due this fall, the electric R8 e-tron will use a widescreen LED instead of an actual mirror.
From picture frames to refrigerators to those annoying advertisements in elevators, full-color LCDs and LEDs are everywhere, even in cars. For the most part, we love their implementation in the 4-wheeled environment.
So we weren't surprised when Audi said that instead of a rearview mirror in its new R8 e-tron supercar, it would use a 7.7-inch widescreen LED.
However, unlike many of Audi's marketing moves -- from trash talking BMW to lending Justin Timberlake an armada of cars -- this one isn't obnoxious.
The system includes a full-time, wide-angle camera that's located in a heated mount in the rear bumper and used a special LED that Samsung created to cast a wider viewing angle than a traditional mirror. Unlike most digital screens, this LED doesn't need a backlight and therefore uses little power. Audi says the screen's response time is within a "few milliseconds," even in cold temperatures, which tend to cause ghosting effects on most other screens.
While certain Ford and Toyota models have placed hidden LCD screens in conventional rearview mirrors, this is the first time that a full screen has debuted on a production car. However, we're not talking RAV4 money: The R8 e-tron, set to debut this fall, will reportedly cost more than a quarter-million dollars, about double that of the V8 model (more fast, nerdy details are here). In June, Audi used the digital rearview mirror on the LeMans-winning R18 e-tron prototype, so we know it works for at least 24 hours.
If a system like this was standard in all cars, up here in Alaska where we have very wet muddy breakups come spring time the camera lens would be covered in dirt and grime constantly. It's not uncommon to go through gallons of washer fluid over the course of a couple weeks. I'd be wiping off the camera lens every 1/4 mile just to see behind me. (Then I'd cause one of those pedestrian accidents from the other blog!)
I think a more practical application would be to get the camera up higher, away from the bumber and tire spray and mount it inside the cabin to the headliner at the rear window. It would stand a much better chance of staying clean that way.
Couldn't agree with xquizz98 any more. Right idea but wrong location. Given all the technical advances in the past decade with vision systems in mainstream cars and the physical limitations of the 100 year old rear view mirror (OK, I'm guessing on it being a century old) it's just a matter of time before they get designed out. There's just too many benefits to hold back this technology
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