As the quest to lower truck emissions continues, Stoneridge continues to enhance and test its MirrorEye rear-view camera system for commercial vehicles, which can replace traditional mirrors for improved aerodynamics and visibiilty.
During a press briefing at the House of Journalists at CES 2024 tech trade show in Las Vegas, Jim Zizelman, Stoneridge president and CEO, highlighted the latest additions to the camera system. He also discussed the status of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations on rear-view cameras.
MirrorEye replaces a truck's mirrors with external digital cameras encased in roof-mounted folding wings and high-resolution displays mounted on the A-pillars inside the cab. The system includes heated lenses, active color night-vision, automated "panning" to keep the trailer wheels in view, enlarged "zoom" views, and infrared "spotlight" for improved docking visibility, plus optional video recording.
All four truck OEMs that have produced advanced SuperTruck II fuel and freight efficiency test vehicles (Daimler Truck North America, Navistar, Peterbilt, and Volvo) chose to use MirrorEye rear-view camera systems on the vehicles.
In fact, Stoneridge worked closely with the truck makers to design and build camera systems for each company to meet its specific needs and efficiency goals.
Zizelman explained that each MirrorEye camera module on a truck is shaped like an airplane wing to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible. And the results are impressive, he said. A truck equipped with MirrorEye rear-view cameras obtains a 3% boost in fuel economy right off the bat, compared to trucks with conventional rear-view mirrors.
“That’s really good,” Zizelman added. “And in terms of emissions, that works out to 5,000 pounds of CO2 per vehicle per year eliminated just with the addition of MirrorEye.”
Truck Driver Feedback on Using Cameras Instead of Mirrors
Feedback from drivers has been positive, according to Zezelman. He said they particularly like the comprehensive views and the elimination of blind spots MirrorEye gives them. They also give high marks to the system’s nighttime views, which give drivers much better visibility of the traffic around them.
But some drivers noted that unlike conventional mirrors, camera systems don’t give them a good depth-of-field view. This can be a problem when working a trailer through tight areas or when turning.
To help drivers with this depth of field issue, MirrorEye engineers have added dynamic digital marker lines to the rear-view displays when the truck is maneuvering a trailer. These digital lines, which become smaller the farther back they appear in the rear-view screen, give drivers a sense of depth that helps them better understand the trailer’s relation to curbs, road signs, and other hazards.
No Regulatory Roadblocks for Camera Mirrors
Zizelman also explained that MirrorEye research is continuing and accelerating, even though a five-year FMCSA exemption from regulations requiring conventional rear-view mirrors is set to expire this year.
“The regulations are a little odd,” Zizelman said. “In the U.S. today, it is not legal to produce a truck without rear-view mirrors. But it is legal to remove the mirror and replace it with a MirrorEye camera" as an aftermarket addition.
The FMCSA exemption was issued five years ago, and Zezelman believes it will be extended without any problems later this year.
“As rear-view camera technology has matured, we’re not starting to see more pull-through from the regulatory side to allow us additional time to validate this technology,” he said. “We have confidence that the National Transportation Safety Administration and FMCSA are actually quite happy with our technology. They like what we’re doing and like what we’re discovering. So we don’t see any roadblocks at this point from the legislative perspective to continue our testing and validation work.”