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NHTSA wants your input on camera-based side mirror technology

Other markets have already approved the technology, but not the US.

Lexus camera-based side mirror
Something like this camera on the Japan-spec Lexus ES could replace the side mirror as we know it in the future.

Technology often outpaces legislation and regulations, but finally, the US will examine and test camera-based side-mirror systems that replace the traditional reflective mirror.

Reuters first reported on the NHTSA announcement in August and the agency said it plans to research driving behavior and how drivers execute lane changes with both traditional mirrors and the camera systems. Per regulation, all automobiles must have reflective side mirrors, though we've started to see cameras take over the rear-view mirror in a handful of vehicles. Backup cameras are also federally mandated technology in all new vehicles, too. 

Starting on Thursday, NHTSA opened the public comment period on the technology. The government will take comments for 60 days, though it did not declare when it will make a final decision on if it will give the systems a green light for the US.

In other markets, such as Europe or Japan, automakers have started to equip vehicles with camera-as-mirror technology. Lexus began selling the ES sedan in Japan last year with cameras replacing traditional side mirrors. Audi, too, has installed the technology on the E-Tron electric SUV for the European market. Here in the US, we're regulated to standard mirrors. Feeds from the cameras are shown inside the car and replace the reflective images shown on a traditional side mirror.

News of the research into allowing camera-based side-view mirrors follows a NHTSA announcement last year that will finally update headlight regulations in the US. Now, automakers will be free to develop what the federal agency called "adaptive driving beam" headlights.

Automakers commonly market the technology as "matrix" headlights in other markets. The system is capable of running high beams as the default setting, but can also dim specific portions of the light when it recognizes another vehicle or pedestrian to keep from blinding them. 

As for the camera-based side mirrors, the public will have a chance to comment on the technology in the months to come. Check out how Audi implemented the technology in the gallery below.

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