Cadillac has introduced an innovative feature that is sure to improve the driver’s experience, a virtual rearview mirror. In its new luxury sedan, the CT6, the traditional rearview mirror will be replaced by a video monitor.
The virtual mirror is a two-part system featuring a camera mounted to the back of the car and a video monitor that will be mounted in the same place as traditional rearview mirrors. The monitor, which will be the same shape and size of a traditional mirror, receives a continuous video feed from the rear-mounted camera. Cadillac’s new system will eliminate the typical blind spots found in modern sedans. The headrests, the frame and roof of the car, and the heads of backseat passengers will no longer obstruct the driver’s view of what is behind them. Travis Hester, a chief engineer at Cadillac, hopes that this increased field of vision will make drivers feel like they are “driving a convertible with the top down.”
The camera has a wide-angle lens which creates a field of vision four times greater than a standard rearview mirror. The camera will also be able to reduce glare and compensate for low-light conditions. A hydrophobic coating will keep the wide-angle lens free of water and dirt.
The monitor features a high-resolution 1280 by 240-pixel TFT-LCD display. If for some reason the driver wants to revert to using a traditional rearview mirror, the monitor becomes a standard mirrored surface with the push of a button.
Cadillac’s team of researchers and engineers responsible for developing this virtual rearview mirror and introducing it to the public has been awarded with ten separate patents. Although Sharp produced the camera itself, the video-processing technology was a collaborative effort by Sharp and the research and development department at General Motors. The virtual mirror project has been underway since 2011.
Cadillac, however, is not the first automobile manufacturer to introduce a state-of-the-art rearview mirror. Nissan showed off its Smart Rearview Mirror earlier this year. There is one hurdle that the two automobile manufacturers must get past in order to incorporate the virtual mirror systems into their product lines: a transportation rule that forbids video sources visible to the operator of the vehicle.
This modern technology might eventually come standard in all of Cadillac’s models, but for now it will only be available in their top-of-the-line CT6, which is set to debut at the New York International Auto Show in April of 2015. General Motors has announced that the technology-laden CT6 will come with a 3-liter twin turbo V6 engine, but rumor has it that Cadillac will also offer a plug-in hybrid option with a fuel economy of approximately 70 miles per gallon. The luxury sedan is projected to cost around $75,000, which is about the same price as a Mercedes S-class or a BMW 7-series. While the Cadillac CT6 is out of most people’s price range, it is only a matter of time until the virtual rearview technology that is just now being introduced comes standard in most vehicles.
By Dac Collins
Photo by Bill Dickinson – Flickr License