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Driving the future of safety

bmW i8 mirrorless, car news

Rear-view mirrors and safety helmets have been the staples of driving and riding safety respectively. BMW reckons it can improve on this technology which has been in place for the past 100 years or so.

 Experts estimate that by the year 2050, populations will grow to the point where more than 75 per cent of Europeans and 90 per cent of Americans will be city dwellers. As a result, urban roads will become increasingly congested and the probability of accidents will rise exponentially.    To counter the increase in risk, BMW has taken a serious look into developing technologies that can help reduce accidents and enhance safety for the benefit of all road users.
The BMW i8 mirrorless that was unveiled at the recent Consumer electronics show (Ces) in Las Vegas is one such result of the German car manufacturer’s efforts to improve safety. Conventional wing mirrors and rear-view mirrors are replaced by three cameras – one on each door where you would expect the wrong mirror to be and the third is found on the upper edge of the rear windscreen. the images are digitally merged and displayed as a single image on a high-resolution screen fitted in place of the conventional rear-view mirror. this results in the elimination of blind spots as the cameras are capable of capturing a wider angle than a conventional mirror. Interestingly, the BMW i8 mirrorless system doesn’t need to be adjusted for different drivers.  

BMW shows off mirrorless i8 concept car, car news
Measuring 300mm wide by 75mm high, the display is larger than a conventional rear-view mirror and gives a panoramic view of what’s behind. Additionally, the system is capable of evaluating the images and responds accordingly to imminent hazards. if, for example, drivers signal with their indicator that they are about to overtake, although a faster car is coming up behind, 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 motorcyclist approaches from the rear, a warning signal is illuminated in the  display as well.
Besides eliminating blind spots, the BMW i8 mirrorless system offers several other advantages. For starters, 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 subjected to direct glare and the contrast can be optimally adjusted to suit the light conditions, even in the darkness of night. Overlaid trajectory lines also provide support for drivers when they are parking. 

BMW i8 shows Mirrorless Camera technology, car news

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.
The side cameras, being smaller than regular wing mirrors allow BMW designers and engineers to optimise the holders aerodynamically and and acoustically for better fuel efficiency and comfort respectively.
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 breaking 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 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 millimeters  because the camera holders finish at the  width of the rear wings of the BMW i8.
While the BMW i8 mirrorless is solely reliant on cameras, the Munich automaker also unveiled a BMW i3 that utilises a camera to work in tandem with conventional mirrors. this offers the benefits of an enhanced rearward vision but can potentially satisfy legislation in markets where the rules still insist on the having regular mirrors.
In the BMW i3 extended rear-view mirror concept, the usual mirror view is overlaid with very precise images from a camera in the base of the car’s roof-mounted antenna. this mix of mirror and camera view significantly extends the driver’s field of vision to the rear. at the same time, the reference to the surroundings is retained and it is easier to assess the extent to which other vehicles are still far away or how quickly they are approaching.
Motorcyclists, whom are inherently more at risk than car users are also not forgotten in BMW’s drive towards improved safety. the recent Consumer electronics show at Las Vegas also showcased the first laser light application in a motorcycle as well as a helmet with a head-up display.
Currently only available as an option on cars such as the BMW i8 and 7 series, laser light technology has an effective high beam range of 600 meters, double that of conventional headlights. this means better visibility especially when travelling on unlit stretches of expressways at night that can be found in Malaysia or further abroad for example.
In a motorcycle application, this not only helps the rider to see farther up the road, but also improves his visibility to other road users, especially on-coming traffic. as the system automatically dips the beam in situations where on-coming vehicles are nearby, there is a much lower risk of dazzling other drivers. Known as the BMW motorrad laser light, this technology was presented in the K 1600 GtL concept bike as a feasibility test. BMW motorrad, the motorcycle division of BMW Group is testing the use of this headlamp technology in series vehicles in the course of its preliminary development.
BMW Bringing Laser Headlight Technology, car news

It only takes a fraction of a second or a brief distraction to put the rider in a dangerous situation. in 2003, BMW became the first European automobile manufacturer to introduce a head-up display as optional equipment for its cars.
Recently, the advances in technology have enabled BMW motorrad to fit a head-up display into a helmet. as a head-up display projects traffic or vehicle information directly into the rider’s field of view, it allows him to maintain constant observation of the traffic on the road, with no distraction. this can be even more important for motorcycles than it is with cars, because sometimes even a split-second distraction can put the rider in a critical road situation.
The display options comprise of safety-relevant information, for instance data relating to the technical status of the motorcycle, such as tyre pressure, oil level and fuel level, road speed and selected gear, speed limit and road sign recognition, plus warnings of impending dangers.
With future V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) communication, it might also be possible to display information in real time, for example to give due warning of any suddenly impending hazards. 

BMW Motorrad presents a helmet with head-up display, car news
The helmet with head-up display also offers interesting possibilities for making the highly emotional experience of motorcycle riding even more intensive and at the same time safer. For instance, an action camera pointing forwards, located inside the helmet, can record video footage of the journey directly from the helmet. a second camera oriented towards the rear could at some point in the future perform the function of a ‘digital rear-view mirror’. Last but not least, this technology also enables the visualisation of other riders in a motorcycle group. this enables the rider to see where his companions are at any given moment.
The helmet, which is also fitted with an integrated mini-computer and loudspeakers, is controlled from the left-hand handlebar fittings using the BMW motorrad multi controller. as well as operating the camera, this allows the rider to comfortably select the information he requires. 
Interestingly, the necessary information display technology can be integrated in existing helmets, without affecting either wearer comfort or rider safety. The operating time of the system with the two replaceable batteries is around five hours.
BMW Motorrad presents a helmet with head-up display, car news
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