If you’ve ever watched Formula 1 then you know how intense the rate of development is on those racing cars. Every race there’s new bits bolted on to the wings, cars that were slow last race now have a 0.1 second advantage over the field, and everyone on the pit wall has their face buried in a laptop monitoring and adjusting the car each lap.
For the Le Mans 24 hour race, the teams try to make their cars as fast as possible, but they also need to take into consideration issues that directly impact the driver over such a long race. One of those is how to fit a rear view mirror that is actually usable.
It may sound like simply a case of positioning a mirror inside the car, but it’s not that easy. For one, the cars don’t have a rear window so there’s nothing to reflect. As it’s a 24 hour race any mirror has to be able to give a clear view regardless of the lighting conditions outside, and ideally has to remain clear when it’s raining. You also need to factor in vibration, which would make a mirror very difficult to see clearly.
Ultimately, a typical rear-view mirror does not work, so Audi came up with another hi-tech solution. For Le Mans this year the Audi R18 will use an AMOLED display hooked up to a camera on the back of the car.
The display gives a perfectly clear view of behind the car regardless of the lighting conditions. Rain will have minimal impact on what the camera sees due to its position and enclosure, and the view should remain clear even with the car vibrating.
One thing not mentioned, but may also be an advantage is the weight difference. I doubt a small, thin OLED screen will weigh more than the mirror it replaces. In fact, it may even weigh less.
If it works, then I don’t see a reason not to have this as an option in our road cars. The fact it works better when it rains and can probably filter out overly bright headlights, is reason enough to start experimenting. Of course, cost may be an issue, but it always is with new tech and that’s why it ends up being a feature for the luxury cars first.
Read more at Gizmag
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