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Finally: NHTSA to Study Use of Cameras in Place of Mirrors

Automotive safety technology is constantly changing.

Today, features like automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear-cross traffic alert are available on vehicles at every price point. Since 2018, backup cameras — once only found on high-end luxury vehicles — have been federally mandated on new cars.

So it’s curious that while automakers have developed increasingly complex safety systems, for visibility on the road, drivers are still largely forced to relay on a decidedly old-school solution — the humble mirror. But that could be about to change. Because this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it will study whether automakers will be able to use camera technology in place of traditional mirrors. And it’s been a long time coming. Here’s a quote from Reuters about what they’ll be looking at:

The planned test by the agency known as NHTSA would examine ‘driving behavior and lane change maneuver execution’ in cars with traditional mirrors and camera-based visibility systems, the department said in a notice offering the public a chance to comment.

The issue of using cameras in place of mirrors has actually been on the NHTSA’s radar since at least 2014, when the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers asked for approval to implement the tech.

Right now, versions of the Audi e-Tron and the Lexus ES are currently sold in their domestic markets without traditional mirrors, and companies like Honda are preparing to follow suit.Hopefully, the fact that European and Japanese regulators have already signed off on the systems will help grease the wheels.

Given how long this has been in the works, there’s no telling how long it will be until vehicles available at your local AutoNation dealer will feature cameras instead of mirrors. But we’re hoping the NHTSA stops dragging its feet here. Because aside from the safety considerations, there are all kinds of cool aesthetic reasons we’d like to see the tech employed. After all, one of the little things that make concept cars look so sleek is the absence of traditional mirrors.

Watch the video below for a look at how Lexus is using the tech — and keep your fingers crossed it gets the green light here soon.

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