Automotive

Lexus ES becomes the world's first production car with digital side mirrors

Japanese editions of the 2019 Lexus ES will be the first production cars to carry digital side mirrors
Japanese editions of the 2019 Lexus ES will be the first production cars to carry digital side mirrors
View 12 Images
Handy lines tell you what's a safe distance from other parked cars
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Handy lines tell you what's a safe distance from other parked cars
The mirrors appear to zoom in as you get close to other cars while parking
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The mirrors appear to zoom in as you get close to other cars while parking
The digital mirrors appear to be able to track objects, and let you know if you're safe to merge
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The digital mirrors appear to be able to track objects, and let you know if you're safe to merge
Blind spot warnings included
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Blind spot warnings included
One advantage of digital mirrors is that they can only shine so brightly, so they won't blind you like high-beams in regular mirrors
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One advantage of digital mirrors is that they can only shine so brightly, so they won't blind you like high-beams in regular mirrors
The cameras appear perfectly capable in night driving
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The cameras appear perfectly capable in night driving
The cameras are positioned and designed to be usable in wet, snowy and other harsh conditions
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The cameras are positioned and designed to be usable in wet, snowy and other harsh conditions
The interior screens aren't exactly seamlessly integrated in this first effort
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The interior screens aren't exactly seamlessly integrated in this first effort
Lexus believes the smaller external pods will give drivers a better view of the road
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Lexus believes the smaller external pods will give drivers a better view of the road
Japanese editions of the 2019 Lexus ES will be the first production cars to carry digital side mirrors
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Japanese editions of the 2019 Lexus ES will be the first production cars to carry digital side mirrors
The outer camera stalks aren't that much smaller than a mirror, really
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The outer camera stalks aren't that much smaller than a mirror, really
The 2019 Lexus ES
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The 2019 Lexus ES

Every concept car worth its salt has been rocking electronic mirrors for years, but 2019's Lexus ES will be the first production car to swap side mirrors for cameras. They'll only be available in Japan for now, but this is surely a sign of things to come and an interesting look at how this tech will actually be implemented.

Called Digital Outer Mirrors, these early efforts comprise a pair of stalks about half the height of a regular side mirror, with indicator LEDs on the front and small wide-angle cameras on the back.

Inside the cabin, you get a couple of small screens angled toward the driver, showing the output from those cameras, augmented with things like blind spot warnings, object identification, and even what appears to be green lights to tell you it's OK to merge.

The cameras are positioned and designed to be usable in wet, snowy and other harsh conditions
The cameras are positioned and designed to be usable in wet, snowy and other harsh conditions

When you're reversing, the cameras appear to zoom in to assist with that task, also offering some augmented lines over the vision to help you work out what's a safe distance as you park the car.

Honestly, the implementation doesn't blow us away. The digital mirror stalks are almost as big as a regular mirror anyway – weren't these things supposed to be just about flush with the doors? And the little screens look like afterthoughts that are about as classy as having a cabbie's computer in the cabin of your Lexus.

Lexus believes the smaller external pods will give drivers a better view of the road
Lexus believes the smaller external pods will give drivers a better view of the road

Not only that, the cameras appear to be fairly poor quality units, displaying the sort of images you'd have been happy with on a first-generation iPhone.

On the other hand, they certainly appear to offer a wider field of view than a regular set of mirrors, which is the point of the whole exercise, and perhaps you don't want to offer people gorgeous images they might stare at instead of keeping their eyes on the road ahead.

Handy lines tell you what's a safe distance from other parked cars
Handy lines tell you what's a safe distance from other parked cars

Somebody's got to be first with these things, and in this case it's Lexus. We can expect to see these kinds of things integrated far better into the interior of the car as time goes by, and we hope those outer stalks can shrink considerably in size.

Mind you, manufacturers will always have to put the cameras out a distance from the car's body if we want to keep the viewpoint we're accustomed to. Whether we want to keep that viewpoint, or move to something else we can achieve with flush cameras, is a question for another day.

Source: Lexus

13 comments
Derek Howe
poorly implemented.
Fairly Reasoner
Why?
Joshua Tulberg
It's like they only wanted the functionality (not having to look through a dirty/rainy glass) but didn't want the streamlining.
physics314
Is there a regulatory reason for the legacy placement of the cameras and screens? At the very least, the screens could be integrated into the dashboard, so that driver's needn't take their eyes of the road as much as they do now, when looking in the mirrors. Also, with good central placement, a single camera could provide a complete view of the rear hemisphere.
FerrisPoobah
physics314, there is more likely a desire to emulate traditional mirrors, with their placement at the sides, than a regulatory need. Having mirrors or displays at such locations is actually beneficial, too, as it is a good idea to have the driver aware of the areas to the sides of the vehicle, even if there is the occasional look away from the area directly in front of the vehicle.
MerlinGuy
Sounds like a very expensive way to replace a piece of glass.
fred_dot_u
Part of using an outside rear view mirror (and an inside rear view mirror) is the flexibility of moving one's head to change the angle of view. Of course, one can press buttons and rotate a digital camera, but not as quickly as a simple head movement. I'd tear these things off and put a stalk mirror in place in an instant.
ljaques
I love the concept, love the screens, and hate the ugly stalks. Now add LIDAR wireframes for rainy/foggy nights. I think passengers will like the screens, too, since they'd add vision to the person critiquing your driving, maybe shutting them up a bit. ;) I like the legacy placement, since our peripheral vision is a backup to our focused vision. It can catch those fast flying maniacs about to fly by you which didn't register in the rear view mirror scenario.
Lardo
Another unnecessary glitter-gizmo to drive up the price.
AngryPenguin
@Lardo All the better for the owners to show off how rich they are. Though it might fix the problem of people who tailgate with their high-beams on.
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