Time has come to look beyond mirrors - Benz

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Europe will permit car companies to fit cars with reverse-facing cameras in lieu of external mirrors from as early as 2016.

And in one fell swoop that will remove the primary obstacle facing automotive aerodynamicists in the 21st Century, according to Mercedes-Benz engineer Mark Eiselt.

"I want to get rid of it... very fast," he told journalists attending a Mercedes-Benz symposium centred on the interior design of the next-generation S-Class.

"We are not allowed to do it [yet]," he continued. "You saw the new VW XL1; it already has that, but each car has to be [certified] for that."

"To summarise it, in Europe it will be allowed around 2016. The rules are [being made] now to be allowed to do that..."

In addition to significant gains in aerodynamic efficiency, replacing mirrors with cameras would almost certainly eliminate blind spots and improve safety. The technology in a nascent form already exists, in the case of blind spot monitoring.

But it's always a supplement to the mirrors and the cameras merely trigger warning lights in the cabin, rather than displaying a full-colour picture of what's taking place behind and obliquely. Reversing cameras do display a wide-angle picture and are frequently safer than rear-view mirrors alone.

It's definitely an idea with legs, but Herr Eiselt had no answer as to the cost or complexity of building the same car on the same production line for two different market collectives, only one of which allows small cameras in lieu of mirrors.

Presumably it becomes a case of seeking global harmonisation for the technology and like all such endeavours will take time and cost the company plenty to appease both sides.

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From www.motoring.com.au

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