This video, from the UK explains some of the aspects the new Mirrorcam system can achieve, it explains how to use mirrorcam on the road. Mercedes-Benz has just introduced the new Actros, the first truck available in Australia with cameras instead of side mirrors. It is the first road-registered vehicle of any kind in the country with MirrorCam, which is both a fuel-saving measure and vision-improving safety feature. No cars available in Australia feature this technology as yet.
For the driver, the experience of Mercedes Benz’s new mirrorcam on the road is seamless. By just reacting and looking in the same direction as you do with conventional mirrors gets the job done. It takes no effort to carry on as normal.
If there is any confusion, it is probably when approaching the truck for the first time. As you approach, it is just a truck and then the mind is alerted to the fact something isn’t right here. It takes a few moments to realise it is simply the fact the are no mirrors on the side of the truck, its silhouette has changed. The camera themselves are quite small in comparison and don’t stick out anything like as far as some mirror arrays. They are about the size of car wing mirrors.
At this point it dawns on the driver this situation is far from normal. At the first intersection, a T-junction where the truck needed to turn right a major advantage came very clearly into view. There was no blind spot when looking for traffic coming along from the left. With no mirrors there is no obstruction. The narrow mirrorcam screen is insignificant and only obscures the thin A-pillar from view.
The next job for the mirror as the truck pulls around onto the road, is to keep an eye on the trailer’s rear to ensure it doesn’t cut across the white lines and get too close to traffic coming in the opposite direction into the T-intersection.
The back of the trailer stays in the middle of the screen throughout the entire manoeuvre. There is no danger of running the trailer wheels over an invisible car bonnet. All of a sudden keeping an eye on things just got a whole sight better.
The reason the image can move as it does is not because the camera itself moves. In fact, the camera never moves, it simply takes a very wide angle image of proceedings and then the control systems decide which section of the image, corrected to look right, is displayed on the screen.
To get a handle on exactly what is going on here, during the test drive the truck is brought to a halt halfway around the corner on a deserted street. A quick look at the mirror shows the rear of the trailer and its position on the road. It is possible to turn the smarts off on the mirrorcam and it will revert what would normally be seen with a conventional mirrors, the driver is confronted with a view of some straps and some signage from halfway down the curtain sided trailer.