Future Cars to Ditch Mirrors: What It Means If You’re Studying to Become an Auto Body Technician
A classic feature may be on the way out, with two major producers opting to remove mirrors from the bodies of their concept vehicles. Replacing them are high-quality cameras, which will provide driving assistance alerts and better fields of vision for the driver. For those who work in auto body repair, these changes could be an interesting shift to see.
Why the change and what can graduates expect from it? Here’s what a world without side mirrors might look like.
Grads of Auto Body Schools Seeing More Mirrorless Designs Being Released
The swing towards cameras, and away from mirrors, was underlined recently when Mitsubishi unveiled its highest-performing automotive camera technology yet. Set to be installed in as-yet-unnamed vehicles, this AI-assisted “Maisart” system consists of two rear-facing cameras on the driver and passenger sides, with another on the rear of the vehicle. It can easily detect vehicles over 100 metres away and is specifically designed to prevent accidents while changing lanes, with the system’s visual-cognition features even indicating what kind of vehicle is within view.
Mitsubishi’s technology joins the likes of the BMW’s i8 camera concept car, which was unveiled at CES in 2016 and similarly replaces the standard three rear-facing mirrors with high-definition cameras. The feeds of these cameras are then ‘stitched’ together to create a wide shot of everything behind and to the sides of the vehicle, busting blind spots and producing an impressive panorama that is visible from a single central screen.
Cameras Can Offer Surprising Auto Advantages Beyond the Obvious
Students at auto body schools know that the ultimate purpose of car mirrors is to facilitate awareness and reduce collisions. This is exactly the outcome that these new camera systems are hoping to achieve, albeit with a substantial improvement due to both improved fields of vision and assisted driving features. This transition will be particularly useful for drivers who need to deal with low sunlight behind them while driving, with smart cameras potentially dimming and re-positioning themsevles to avoid glare. However, industry groups have been keen to stress there are other side benefits to removing side mirrors.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has previously estimated that the drag associated with traditional side mirrors can be considerable. Removing them could reduce vehicle drag but up to 7 per cent, having a positive impact on fuel consumption. The removal or reduction in size of wing struts could also result in lower levels of interior noise too. This is the kind of positive that manufacturers of premium car brands could be especially interested in.
Become an Auto Body Technician and See a Reduction in Certain Damage Types
The better visibility promised by the likes of the i8’s cameras means the individual who chooses to become an auto body technician may ultimately see less cars coming into the shop with damage from blind-spot collisions with other vehicles. Additionally, the increased provision of fully rear-facing cameras could also mean a reduction in the number of collisions with static objects while reversing, which are often in too low a position to be visible via the traditional rear view mirror. Overall, this could spell fewer repairs to rear bumpers and exhausts. However, in many ways, this is not an elemental change in the driver’s duties. Looking at the camera feed still represents a dangerous glance away from where the vehicle is travelling, and driver calculation will still be part of the equation even if assisted driving alerts are issued.
Additionally, as Canadians can appreciate, these camera systems will still be subject to all the rigors of the environment. This includes being obscured by freezing rain, snow and slush, or blacked-out by splashed mud. Repair professionals will note that a small abrasion or scratch on a small camera lens could potentially cause more visual trouble than a scratch of the same size on a standard mirror. Damage to these new elements could also cost substantially more to repair as well, given their more intricate components. As a result, many believe that while driving will become safer, the need for repairs will continue for a long time.
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