Audi to bring digital rearview mirror from racing into real world

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Not many cars are built without rear windows, but such was the problem with Audi's soon to arrive all-electric R8 e-tron sports coupe that has its rear bulkhead filled with batteries. In order to make lane changing safer and general driving more confidence inspiring, Audi needed a way for the driver to see out the back. What to do?

The premium German brand looked to its Le Mans winning R18 sports car racer for an answer, a car that integrated a large digital display screen where its rearview mirror would have otherwise been if it had a rear window to see out of. The e-tron will make use of a 7.7-inch AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) display that will receive a live feed from a tiny camera housing a lens that's only "a few millimeters" in diameter, which "covers a much larger field of vision than a conventional rear-view mirror," says Audi in a press release. The camera, provided by development partner Samsung Display Co., Ltd., is also heated so that it doesn't freeze over in inclement weather.

According to Audi, the e-tron's rearview monitor "produces a consistent high-contrast, brilliant image" emitted by low voltage self-illuminating organic materials that don't require backlighting, a technology already used in the smart phone market. Additionally, the display will automatically dim via the system's intelligent control module, taking the glare out of night driving, while it's capable of being completely switched off if not needed.

Currently the display is only set up to act as a rearview mirror, but Audi says it has plans to give it more functions in the future.

While a smart solution for this low production electric sports car, such a device could make a much bigger safety impact in the commercial vehicle industry where large trucks, buses and delivery vans rely on large sideview mirrors for rearward vision.

The digital rearview mirror will go into small-scale production with the introduction of the 2013 R8 e-tron later this year. Only time will tell if it's adapted to broader applications.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Audi, 2013, R8 e-tron,

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