Camera technologies are
increasingly finding their way into a very wide range of vehicle classes. For
the first time the international automotive supplier Continental used a
prototype vehicle to demonstrate how a camera monitor system can replace a
car’s exterior and interior mirrors. Three cameras from Continental’s product
range are installed inside the test vehicle, and a different aperture angle is
the technical difference between these and the Surround View cameras. Instead
of the rear-view mirror, the driver has two monitors with organic light
emitting diodes (OLEDs) oriented in the usual viewing directions and displaying
what’s happening at the rear and sides of the vehicle. In addition to giving
the driver a wider field of vision, the system eliminates glare, provides
traffic situation detection with driver assistance functions, is much less
susceptible to dirt and dust, makes damaged wing mirrors a thing of the past
and gives drivers better vision in poor light and rain. Vehicle fuel
consumption is also reduced (less wind resistance) and there is less noise from
“There are no blind spots in
this camera monitor system. The effects of unwanted optical phenomena such as
glare and weak light can also be compensated”, said Alfred Eckert, Director of
the Advanced Engineering department in Continental’s Chassis & Safety
Division, adding that “By eliminating the wing mirrors, we have created an
additional benefit, because the vehicle’s air resistance is reduced. The low cw
value (drag coefficient) reduces fuel consumption, and wind flow noise at
higher speeds is diminished.” Unlike conventional car mirrors, the traffic
situation is displayed indirectly using a camera, thus glare caused by the sun
low on the horizon and vehicles with their headlights on high beam is avoided.
To provide the best possible display of the lighting conditions on the
monitors, the cameras are equipped with a High Dynamic Range (HDR) function
that reduces a bright sun, for example, to a white surface without flare. HDR
also improves visibility at dusk.
The coated lenses of the wing
cameras are less sensitive than conventional mirrors and have a smaller surface
area where dirt and dust would normally collect – this improves the rear view
even in bad weather. A cleaning function for the rear view camera lens is
currently being developed.
With its digital “mirroring”
as presented, Continental implements the requirements for conventional mirror
classes I and III, but the system goes further than this primary basic
function. “Instead of the mechanical mirror, we rely on a driver-oriented and
holistic human-machine interface (HMI) that not only creates better visibility
conditions, but also opens up the possibility of providing situational
instructions on the monitors,” said Dr. Otmar Schreiner, Head of Research &
Development at Interior Electronics Solutions in Continental’s Interior
Division. If the approval of these camera-monitor systems goes through as
planned in 2016, the systems could already be in use in vehicles starting in 2018
– the relevant and internationally agreed technical regulation is UNECE R46
(United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation 46).
Unobstructed view without physical contortions
The adaptation of the wing
cameras to the chassis was achieved using small, pyramid-shaped housings in the
window triangle. The third camera is unobtrusively integrated into the mirror
base of the GPS antenna on the roof. The image processing system uses the
images created by the three cameras to stitch together a corresponding image
for each monitor. In addition to the usual mirror images, the driver’s field of
vision is also expanded by areas he couldn’t normally see – he can use
different picture modes to get a view of the side and the rear of his own
vehicle, for instance. Combined with suitable orientation, this image stitching
(joining of the images) prevents any gap in the field of view, especially the
accident-prone blind spots of conventional mirrors.
Instead of the usual wing and
rear view mirror images, the camera images are displayed on OLED monitors
developed by Continental. Thanks to Continental’s own coating technology, this
energy-saving monitor system is impervious to direct light, ensuring consistent
readability of the monitors. The OLED displays are crystal-clear and consume
less power than conventional displays.
In addition to the better
view, the elimination of the wing mirrors also has a positive effect on the cw
value – and that means less fuel consumption as well as better vehicle interior
acoustics. The reduced width of the vehicle also makes it easier for drivers to
use the left lane in tight two-lane road construction zones.
Versatile future uses for the digital mirror
“The camera monitor system can
also create more benefits for the driver than just mirror replacement”, said
Marc Simon, project leader for Mirror Replacement in the Chassis & Safety
Division’s Advanced Engineering department. Unlike conventional mirrors,
digital mirrors also ensure a real improvement in traffic management thanks to
the use of mono-camera-based object recognition and classification as a basis
for advanced driver assistance systems functions. Critical vehicles, speeds and
distances are displayed on the monitor at dusk and at high speeds, for example,
enabling the driver to make decisions about maneuvers more easily.
In a holistic HMI, where the
existing hardware and software can be dynamically adapted to the driver’s needs
by networking, digital mirrors expand the possibilities of assisting the
driver. They can increase the “situational awareness” of events in the traffic
environment, for instance. Initial field trials and a Continental-own study
have shown that digital mirrors are preferred to conventional models. Human
testers found in particular that these images were easy to perceive and that
the entire system was attractive to use.
Cameras as wing mirror replacements in commercial and special vehicles
Concerning commercial and
special vehicles there are specific regulations: The wing mirror replacement
must cover mirror classes II and IV. For it, Continental offers with
ProViuTMMirror an own solution with a camera monitor system for the right and
left side of the vehicle. Two cameras replace the wing mirrors on each side of
the vehicle and transfer the images to 12,3 inch displays (1,920 x 720 pixel).
They are mounted on the left and right of the A-pillar inside the cab. Through
the abolition of the huge wing mirrors the visible area to the sideways front
is clearly improved. Furthermore, the solution developed by the business unit
Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket enhances driving safety and reduces fuel
consumption at the same time.
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