Toyota to Replace Side-View Mirrors with Cameras on New Lexus ES

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Sept. 14, 2018—Toyota Motor will introduce a digital alternative to side-view mirrors in a revamped Lexus sedan due out in late October, becoming the world's first automaker to adopt such a device in a mass-produced vehicle, reports Nikkei.

The "digital outer mirror" system, announced Wednesday, features small cameras in place of side-view mirrors and display monitors inside the vehicle on both sides.

The cameras take up less space and therefore provide better forward visibility for the driver, according to Toyota. Wind noise is reduced for the same reason.

The cameras offer an expanded view during turns or when backing up. They are shaped to keep water droplets from hampering the view, and embedded heaters prevent fogging on the lens. Digitally enhanced images on the monitors improve views at night, and the driver can choose to have a wider view displayed.

Display monitors are attached at the foot of the front pillars for a seamless transition for the driver.

The system will be available as an option on higher-grade Lexus ES sedans, only in Japan for the time being. Toyota already offers a similar system for rear-view mirrors on multiple models.

Japan's transport ministry revised safety regulations in 2016 to allow manufacturing of mirrorless passenger vehicles and trucks -- provided that the alternative systems offer range and image quality comparable to those of conventional mirrors. To help drivers adjust, the rule stipulates that the monitors be placed at similar locations to mirrors.

The European Union also changed its rules in 2016 to accommodate digital mirror systems, and the shift is likely to pick up pace. Germany's BMW in 2016 unveiled a concept model of a mirrorless version of the i8 sports car. Audi, a Volkswagen Group unit, also plans to develop mirrorless cars.

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