With Mercedes Benz set to launch its MirrorCam technology in Australia on the next gen Actros in the next 12 months, comes news that US Federal transport administrator is preparing to reviser road rules to allow truck and car makers to install camera technology to replace side and rearview mirrors.
An Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) issued recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminsitration (NHTSA) generated a huge amount of feedback in favour of the concept.
The ANPR was issued in response to a 2014 petition filed jointly by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Tesla to allow camera monitor systems (CMS) to replace outside rearview mirrors on cars and a similar petition filed in 2015 by Daimler Trucks North America for heavy trucks.
In addition to improved safety that video cameras provide by reducing or eliminating blind spots, several comments also pointed out economic benefits.
“Allowing truck manufacturers to install Camera Mirror Systems in lieu of rearview mirrors would unlock a unique opportunity to make a consequential step forward in the aerodynamic performance of heavy-duty tractors,” the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) said in comments filed in December.
EMA claimed that an estimated 0.8 per cent to 2 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency from reduced aerodynamic drag asa result of eliminating side mirrors, could save a trucking company between 640 and 1600litres of fuel on a single prime mover in one year, based on annual consumption of 80,000 litres of fuel.
“Multiplying that improvement over many trucks in year-over-year operation, the fuel efficiency benefits of a CMS would provide enormous financial returns to trucking fleets, not to mention the significant corresponding environmental benefits of reduced criteria pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions,” the submission said
The American Trucking Associations, which also supports allowing mirrors to be replaced by cameras, pointed out savings in mirror maintenance costs. “At the current average, shop repair costs are $AUD140-$AUD220 per hour,” the ATA commented. “Using these figures, a [commercial motor vehicle] owner may spend $140-$300 twice each year repairing mirror issues, not including the cost of parts.”
While NHTSA moves through the rule-change process, two companies that manufacture CMS have been granted temporary exemptions from the current rules by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
FMCSAgranted Stoneridge Inc.a five year extension that allows the company to install its MirrorEye camera system on trucks in lieu of rearview mirrors. The agency recently granted a similar right to Vision Systems North America Inc. to replace rearview mirrors on trucks with its SmartVision high-definition CMS.
The response to the NHTSA shows that there is little opposition to the new technology in the USA and a similar level of acceptance is expected in Australia when the systems are introduced here.