Audi has recently announced to offer digital virtual exterior mirrors for production cars. The glass covers of this system's camera lens are heated, so they aren't blocked in bad weather conditions such as rain or frost. Moreover, the aerodynamic drag can be reduced. This system can work with active and passive safety systems. For customers who preorder e-Tron or e-Tron Sportback, they can upgrade to the virtual exterior mirrors for free.
In Audi's digital virtual exterior mirror system, there are 2 types of cameras. One is a high dynamic camera for high-dynamic range (HDR) technology. The other is a top-view camera with sensors. These cameras offer 3 view modes on e-Tron's display: highway view, intersection view and curb view. The captured exterior images are transmitted to 7-inch OLED multi-touch screens that are mounted on the driver door and front passenger door in the cabin. A driver can tap on the multi-touch screen's arrow symbol(s) and icon(s), to adjust the camera angles and image range and to select different touchscreens.
For the digital visual exterior mirrors systems, it automatically detects driving conditions and shows vertical line or horizontal line on the OLED screens. Below the horizontal line or beyond vertical line, these field of views can be zoomed in and out, so as to assist a driver to recognize the exterior conditions. The blind spots of traditional wing mirrors are minimized. In addition, the cameras detect the ambient light situations, to make sure the contrast ratio of images are consistent before and during when you get in tunnels and after you get out of tunnels.
Besides, the digital virtual exterior mirrors system can cooperate with a vehicle's active safety systems. For example, if a car rapidly approached from behind, on the OLED touchscreens the Audi side assist system could flash yellow light bar for reminding the driver to pay attention and green direction light to show where the warning direction is. As the Audi car's velocity is above 90 kilometers per hour on a freeway, the touchscreen will automatically shift to a wide-angle field of view.
Let's compare before and after using the digital virtual exterior mirrors system. With these rear-facing cameras, the width of a car can be reduced by 15 centimeters when compared with traditional wing mirrors. This system can be applied on both Audi e-Tron and Audi e-Tron Sportback models. On both of them, the aerodynamic coefficient drag (Cd) are both remarkably decreased. On an Audi e-Tron, the drag is dropped to 0.27 Cd; on an Audi e-Tron Sportback, the drag is reduced to 0.25 Cd. This feature helps extend the battery life, improves wind noise, and creates less interior noise. Meanwhile, these virtual exterior mirrors are able to be folded like the conventional rearview mirrors.
These digital exterior mirrors are like 2 cameras standing out. Even though they do have above benefits, the screen locations take time for drivers to get used to it. A potential buyer should definitely test drive before purchasing it. Moreover, the OLED screen on the side of front passenger door might look smaller, and it is prone to be blocked by a front passenger or by objects. This is another factor to consider before ordering the virtual exterior mirrors system.
This set of digital virtual exterior mirrors system is an option that requires NTD 100 thousands. For an owner who pre-orders an e-Tron series model by the end of November, they can receive a free upgrade to this mirrors system. This free upgrade is very attractive in terms of saving money, but driving safety definitely needs a test drive before ordering it.
(Photo credits: Audi Taiwan)