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Tesla Motors leads campaign to replace sideview mirrors with cameras

The car has been around for so long that it’s easy to take things for granted. Things like side mirrors.

Tesla Motors is leading a campaign to replace those reflective pieces of glass with cameras, Automotive News (sub. required) reports.

The Silicon Valley carmaker has teamed up with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers – a trade group that represents 12 major car companies – to ask the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its OK.

Side mirrors are required under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 111, but Tesla and the Alliance argue that cameras can offer similar visibility while improving aerodynamics.

That’s because cameras don’t jut out as far, giving the vehicle a sleeker profile. That could increase fuel economy, or the range of an electric car.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has reportedly tried to get the regulations changed before. When the original concept version of the Tesla Model X appeared in 2012, it didn’t have side mirrors. They were added to an updated concept that appeared at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.

Tesla isn’t the only company that has played with the idea, though. The ultra-efficient Volkswagen XL1 diesel hybrid features cameras called E-Mirrors, part of what help it achieve an estimated 261 mpg.

The petition came one day after the NHTSA announced that rearview cameras would be mandatory on all new cars beginning in 2018.

With the two efforts underway, it’s possible future cars will have more cameras than a CIA drone.

Nissan and Mercedes-Benz already offer systems that uses banks of cameras to give drivers a 360-degree bird’s eye view of their surroundings. Could those systems be a preview of the new normal?

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