Lexus unveils world's 1st digital outer mirrors

The new camera-based rearview mirrors on the Japanese-market 2019 Lexus ES 300h.						Handout Lexus

By replacing the vehicle's conventional side mirrors with small cameras, side mirrors no longer block the view outside the front windows, resulting in improved visibility.

The Digital Outer Mirror will make its debut on the new Lexus ES in Japan, where it will go on sale in late October.

Lexus calls the system Digital Side-View Monitors and the images each camera captures are beamed to 5-inch display monitors located inside the cabin.

The system automatically enhances the corresponding area―left, right or behind―when the turn signals are activated, or when the transmission is put into reverse. It's not the cleanest execution of the technology we've seen but it offers several advantages over conventional mirrors, according to Lexus.

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Side view mirrors are about to be the next thing in your rearview. In addition to providing an expanded view and better visibility at night and in poor weather, these digital systems can help yield better fuel efficiency due to the more aerodynamic design of the camera setup.

Along with these features, Lexus says the camera lenses are heated and the housings keep raindrops from collecting on them. It's already expensive enough to replace broken vehicle mirrors, and we don't want to begin thinking about the cost of a whole new camera system.

The Japanese government lead the way in 2016 when it adopted rules allowing automakers to use cameras instead of mirrors.

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