Audi is set to make driving even safer with a new technology: the digital rear-view mirror is due to enter small-scale production in the Audi R8 e-tron at the end of this year.
The Audi R8 e-tron – like the current Le Mans winners – has no rear window and hence no conventional rear-view mirror. Its high-tech successor is the digital rear-view mirror – a camera/monitor system.
A control unit produces a consistent high-contrast, brilliant image. During the hours of darkness the intelligent control system prevents dazzle from the headlights of other vehicles. The driver can dim or deactivate the display at any time. Audi is also working on incorporating additional information on the monitor in future.
The small, ultra-lightweight camera is located in an aerodynamically optimized housing which is heated in cold temperatures. It uses a lens with a diameter of just a few millimeters and covers a much larger field of vision than a conventional rear-view mirror. A color monitor with a 7.7-inch screen diagonal mounted in place of a conventional rear-view mirror is used to display the digital image data from the camera. This AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) display, which comes from development partner Samsung Display Co., LTD, is making its debut in a passenger car. The organic materials used in the display are self-illuminating at a low voltage – i.e. they do not require backlighting. The AMOLED technology has already proved widely successful in cell phones and similar devices in the consumer segment.
The new displays are more energy-efficient, thinner, and lighter than conventional LCD monitors. Switching times are just a few milliseconds irrespective of the ambient temperature.
The digital rear-view mirror celebrated its dazzling premiere at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the R18 e-tron quattro and R18 ultra race cars which gave Audi a one-two-three win in the legendary race. The new system proved reliable even under the grueling race conditions.