Cameras instead of rearview mirrors — Is that at all possible?

(March 24, 2020) STUTTGART, Germany — Cameras on the roof frame and displays at the A-pillars: the new Actros is easy to recognize at first glance due to the missing rearview and wide-angle mirrors. The advantages of the new system are obvious — lower gas consumption due to improved aerodynamics and increased traffic safety thanks to better visibility. But how is it operated, what needs to be considered and do drivers need time to get used to the system?

Thanks to the MirrorCam by Mercedes-Benz, the driver now has an unobstructed view where rearview and wide-angle mirrors previously covered large areas to the right and left of the A-pillar. An advantage above all at junctions, when maneuvering and in tight bends. And, the driver must no longer look as far to the right or left to see traffic to the rear.

Also  mirrors are mounted in a fixed position so that when cornering the driver may lose sight of the end of the semitrailer. In contrast, the MirrorCam swivels the image of the camera mounted toward the inside of the bend, so that the driver always has the end of the trailer in view. In principle, the system is set for standard semitrailers, but swiveling can be regulated individually.

This happens on modern trailers automatically when they transmit their geometric data to the towing vehicle. The driver can move the swivel radius manually in the door operating unit using the side selection button and the four-way rocker switch.

The optimized aerodynamics can reduce consumption: the optimized wind resistance thanks to MirrorCam can result in up to 1.5 percent less fuel.

Misted or dirty mirror glass and side windows have always been a problem. Thanks to the position of the cameras high up on the vehicle, the small roof above the camera lens, a special coating and the digital transmission of the image to a display in the cab, misting and dirt hardly affect the system at all. And what is particularly helpful on cold, damp days; the camera is automatically heated at temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius.

The distance indicator lines which are shown on the display of the MirrorCam system help drivers to estimate the distances behind the truck. Three fixed lines are shown together with a line that the driver can adjust precisely to mark the end of the vehicle before starting a journey. Used in combination with the information shown in the displays by the assistance systems, the driver can now better assess three typical situations in particular: when is there sufficient distance to move out to the left? When maneuvering what is the distance at the rear of the vehicle? After overtaking, when can the driver safely merge to the right again?

In residual light situations, that is at dusk, the MirrorCam even has an advantage. The light transmission of the cameras is high. Thus the displays show an image that is much brighter than the natural light. So drivers receive better information about their surroundings than with a mirror.

Furthermore the brightness is adjusted to the prevailing light conditions steplessly — drivers are not dazzled. All of that works both on the open road and in tunnels. If it is completely dark outside, the MirrorCam can only show the areas illuminated by the vehicle itself – just like a conventional mirror. Here, for maximum image information, the developers have selected a set-up which at present may cause a little image noise.

Varying perception, weather conditions and times of day – there are good reasons for adjusting the brightness of displays. This is done simply via the right-hand touchscreen display or the multifunction steering wheel. If required the brightness of the right-hand and left-hand display can be adjusted differently. For this, a virtual slide controller can be accessed via the menus "Display and Brightness –> Display brightness –> MirrorCam".