Usually, technology created for motorsport tends to trickle its way downward to regular passenger cars -- high-end carbon-ceramic brakes are an excellent example. Every so often, though, a piece of consumer technology turns out to be a great benefit for racers. That's the case with Nissan's Full Display Mirror.
This technology first appeared as theconcept for Nissan's passenger cars. The driver could switch between a standard reflective mirror and a camera-based LCD with the push of a button. It's perfect when your car is loaded to the gills with moving boxes and you don't have a straight sight line out the back.
It's proved eminently capable in the motorsport arena, as well. Nissan's latest Le Mans race car, the GT-R LM Nismo, did not provide its drivers with enough rearward visibility using side mirrors alone, and the shape of the cockpit doesn't permit a true rearview mirror to function. Thus, Nissan called upon Gentex to develop a similar system for its racing division.
The concept is the same, with a traditional mirror housing a hidden LCD screen. A rear-mounted camera sends live video to that LCD screen, and voila -- drivers have a real-time view of what's behind them. To ensure the image is crystal clear, the camera features high-dynamic-range (HDR) capability, which allows the image to utilize multiple exposures simultaneously. It brings extra light to a nighttime drive and prevents harsh sunlight from turning the feed into a bright white mess.
It's especially important when running a race like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where there are a variety of cars on the track, each with different performance levels. Drivers need to know if a car behind them is angling for a pass, because one wrong move could send both cars flying off into a gravel trap.