Back in May, we announced that Audi was eliminating the traditional rearview mirror from its R18 Le Mans cars, due to its lack of rearward-facing glass. We also made it clear that a lot of additions to new cars come from successful experiences in the racing world. Well, the R18s ended up garnering a 1-2-3 finish in that race.
As expected, with success comes commercialization, and Audi has announced that its upcoming R8 e-tron will boast this digital mirror technology. This system will consist of a 7.7-inch AMOLED screen mounted in the traditional mirror’s spot. The “mirror” uses a rear-mounted camera to send a video feed, giving the driver a slightly wider field of vision than the average rearview mirror.
Here’s the issue though, the NHTSA’s law book still requires a mirror made from reflective glass to be mounted to all passenger cars. The law specifically states “Each passenger car shall have an inside rearview mirror of unit magnification” and it defines a “unit magnification” as “a plane or flat mirror with a reflective surface through which the angular height and width of the image of an object is equal to the angular height and width of the object when viewed directly at the same distance except for flaws that do not exceed normal manufacturing tolerances. For the purposes of this regulation a prismatic day-night adjustment rearview mirror one of whose positions provides unit magnification is considered a unit magnification mirror. ”
The issue is in the verbiage is that the phrase “ a plane or flat mirror with a reflective surface...” eliminates an LED screen, as it is not a reflective surface. Now, the law becomes nullified is the car comes with side-view mirrors that have 49 square-inches of reflective surface and offer a complete view of the rear end of the vehicle. Those mirrors would be huge for this supercar, so we doubt that exemption will be valid.
We’ll have to see exactly how Audi plans to get around this, or if the NHTSA makes adjustments to its laws.
Click past the jump to read Audi’s press release.