As the BMW i8 continues to make its mark as a high-tech, cutting edge green supercar, the brand is on the lookout for ways to ensure that it remains at the absolute peak of the “hey, that’s cool” technology wave. To that end, BMW showed the i8 Mirrorless Concept at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While identical to the production i8 at a casual glance, it’s quickly obvious where this concept’s name is derived from.

This i8 has done away with low-tech slabs of silvered glass entirely, replacing the mirrors with an array of three rear-facing cameras. In addition to eliminating blind spots, the camera display can flash warning messages if the driver is about to merge in front of a faster-moving vehicle or perform a similarly hazardous maneuver. Additionally, the display is larger than a traditional mirror would be, and mounted on the dash to reduce driver eye motions. The display can also adjust itself in response to the steering wheel being turned, angling in the direction of travel when the car is backing up.

Concepts with cameras replacing the mirrors are nothing new. BMW hasn’t made any noises about whether this concept will go into production or not, but considering the technological resources it has already on hand, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to call this one plausible.

Continue reading to learn more about the BMW i8 Mirrorless Concept.

Exterior

2016 BMW i8 Mirrorless Concept
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At a glance, the i8 Mirrorless Concept is identical to the standard i8, in black with blue highlights in the grille and rockers. The side cameras have been mounted in smooth pods that are much smaller than conventional mirrors, and they’re integrated neatly in to the i8’s eye-catching design. Turn signal repeaters are included. Wind noise is reduced, and the pods act as aerodynamic rain diverters, just as side view mirrors do. The reduced surface area should provide a slight improvement in aerodynamics as well.

One advantage BMW cites to the exterior-mounted mirrors is a greater field of vision than the driver can get from inside the car. The wide-angle cameras also do not need to be adjusted. A heated, dirt-repellent coating keeps them clear in all weather.

Interior

2016 BMW i8 Mirrorless Concept
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Changes to the concept car are slightly less subtle on the interior, where a large display has been mounted where the interior rear-view mirror is usually found. At 300mm wide by 75mm tall, the display is larger than the standard mirror and combines images from all three cameras into a single image. The central camera is mounted at the top of the rear windscreen, where it’s almost completely hidden. Like most backup cameras, BMW’s system overlays guide lines on the image when backing, and the cameras adjust for glare to provide an equally clear view at night.
Apart from that the interior of the i8 Mirrorless Concept is unchanged, from the two-tone leather to the blue piping.

Drivetrain

2016 BMW i8 Mirrorless Concept
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The i8’s super-green 228-horsepower 1.5 liter twin-turbo 3-cylinder engine and 129-horse electric motor aren’t changed in this concept. Total system output is 357 horsepower, and with a two-speed transmission putting the power to all four wheels the i8 accelerates from 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds while returning a range of 330 miles. The suspension consists of double wishbones up front and a five-link rear; there are no economy-car parts hiding underneath the i8.

Conclusion

2016 BMW i8 Mirrorless Concept
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In terms of advancing technology the i8 Mirrorless Concept represents the “steady march” category rather than the “giant leap” side of the coin. The benefit of small but telling upgrades in technology, of course, is that they’re much more likely to be implemented in production models. This subtle but telling upgrade to the i8 might just reach showrooms in the future. At this time, BMW isn’t saying yea or nay.

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Press Release

BMW i is presenting BMW i8 Mirrorless at the CES 2016 in Las Vegas. This is the first time a camera monitor system has been launched that offers BMW drivers a pioneering form of rear view with the potential to replace conventional exterior mirrors. Although different versions of driver assistance cameras are used, there has so far been no digital use of the rearview mirror which can be deployed
in series vehicles. The BMW Group has also provided a demonstration with the BMW i3 Extended Rearview Mirror of how camera display systems can extend the field of vision in conjunction with existing rearview mirrors and as a result further enhance safety.

2016 BMW i8 Mirrorless Concept
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Cameras instead of rearview mirrors, a display replaces the interior mirror.

BMW i8 Mirrorless incorporates two insignificant looking cameras, accommodated in aerodynamically optimised holders, which replace the existing exterior mirrors. They are supplemented by a third camera mounted on the upper edge of the rear windscreen. All images are merged and displayed as a single image on a high-resolution display suspended in the position of the rearview mirror. The image of the traffic behind the car covers a greater viewing angle than could be observed using the interior and exterior mirrors. No adjustment of the cameras is necessary. Even relatively small and very dynamic road users like motorcyclists are recorded either by the camera or directly in vision from the side window. Dangerous blind spots have been consigned to the past.

When there are hazards: warning alerts in the display.

The display is around 300 millimetres wide and 75 millimetres high. This is rather bigger than the holder of a standard modern interior mirror today but it has a more appealing look. The casing is rounded at the side and this conveys a natural panoramic perception of the traffic behind the car. A further special feature of this system is that it evaluates the camera images and responds situatively to imminent hazards. If, for example, drivers signal with their indicator that they are about to overtake, although a car is coming up behind which is travelling much faster, a striking yellow warning icon immediately flashes on the display and this increases in size as the hazard intensifies. Or if a driver is about to turn right at traffic lights, the system recognises that the vehicle is turning a corner by the indicators flashing or the steering wheel being turned sharply, and the image in the display automatically swivels further to the right and extends the area being displayed. If a cycle rider approaches from the rear, a warning signal is illuminated in the display as well.

2016 BMW i8 Mirrorless Concept
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Passengers also benefit from the mirrorless system.

However, the mirrorless camera display system also offers additional advantages. The cameras replacing the exterior mirrors are smaller than the existing wing mirrors and permit a more open view to the front and side of the car. The display prevents the driver from being subject to direct glare and the contrast can be optimally adjusted to suit the light conditions. Overlaid trajectory lines also provide support for drivers when they are parking.

Moreover, passengers can similarly use the new mirrorless system. Like the driver, they can always see the traffic in the display, and when they are getting out they can see whether pedestrians or cyclists are in danger before they open the door.

Optimised aeroacoustics reduce wind noise.

The cameras mounted at the sides of the BMW i8 Mirrorless record the traffic travelling behind the car and they are positioned in wing-like holders at the same height as conventional exterior mirrors. The holders are optimised aero dynamically and aeroacoustically so BMW i8 Mirrorless not only has a cw value like a BMW i8 without exterior mirrors – with the equivalent positive effects on consumption – but
also generates a similarly low amount of wind noise. Moreover, the holders channel rainwater round the side windows. The lens of the two side cameras is made of Gorilla Glass Type 2, a thin and robust glass which is frequently used for displays of electronic devices with touchscreens and features particularly high scratch resistance and braking strength. The protective glass on the camera lens is provided with a dirt-repellent coating, is heatable and does not require servicing so as to be able to always provide a reliably high image quality under all traffic conditions, during any weather and in all lighting conditions. The holders are also designed so that spray water is conducted around the lens. The absence of an exterior mirror reduces the overall width of the BMW i8 Mirrorless to 1,942 millimetres because the camera holders finish at the width of the rear wings of the BMW i8.

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