The actual lens in this back up camera is 1.7 mm diameter (MACS photo)
by Jacques Gordon
Earlier this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued final standards that will require all new cars, buses and trucks weighing less than 10,000 lbs to be fitted with a backup camera, beginning in May 2018.
The standards require technology that allows drivers to see objects behind the vehicle that are 32 inches tall and 12 inches in diameter, situated 10 feet on either side of the vehicle centerline and from “immediately behind the vehicle” to 20 feet from the rear bumper. In a departure from normal practice of relying on the auto industry to choose the best technology to meet performance-based standards, NHTSA has taken the unusual step of specifying the use of rear view camera systems to meet these standards.
The final ruling states the agency’s reasoning: “We believe that existing (camera) systems generally meet our proposed specifications…(and) vehicle and equipment manufacturers cited low warranty claim rates for rearview video systems in their comments. This indicates to us that today’s systems are proving durable in typical driving conditions.”
The ruling specified performance criteria for the visual display, such as luminance and image response time, saying that these criteria could be accomplished with software at minimal cost. They expect it will cost about $45 for vehicles already equipped with a suitable display screen and $142 for those that must add one specifically for the camera system.
Twelve of the industry’s carmakers, through the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), have supported the ruling through a Statement on Reward Visibility saying that the ruling “helps pave the way for using cameras in other ways on vehicles.” AAM noted that rearview cameras are already standard or optional on two-thirds of the nation’s 50 top-selling models, and they are now petitioning NHTSA to allow automakers to use cameras in place of conventional side-view and rearview mirrors. The cameras are tiny compared to mirrors, and studies have shown that eliminating the side mirrors would reduce wind noise and help improve fuel mileage.
Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and others currently offer a 360° camera system on some models, with one camera located in the front grille, another in each outside mirror housing and one in the rear. With these four cameras, the system can calculate and display a number of different views, including an aerial view looking down on the car and its surroundings. In addition to improving the driver’s situational awareness, cameras are a technology that is required for automated driving functions.
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