Will a new law in Japan kick off the end of car mirrors?

2016 Cadillac CT6
Japan has become one of the first countries in the world to allow automakers to sell cars equipped with cameras in lieu of conventional mirrors.

The technology isn’t quite new; we’ve seen it on numerous concept cars over the past few years, including the Lamborghini Urus. In fact, Cadillac offers its CT6 flagship with a digital rear-view mirror (pictured) that displays obstacle-free footage of what’s behind the car at the simple push of a button. However, no one has been able to completely replace door mirrors with cameras on a production model because sole reliance on the technology is still illegal in most parts of the world.

That’s set to change, and Japan’s new law paves the way for the widespread adoption of cameras. Components manufacturers like Bosch and Ichikoh Industries have already started talking to automakers about supplying the technology for upcoming models. The car industry rarely wastes time in rolling out new innovations, and Ichikoh recently inked a deal to provide a digital rear-view mirror for a car that will go on sale in Japan in August. The make and model is being kept under wraps for the time being.

Cameras are safer than mirrors, according to BMW. They never need to be adjusted, and they make blind spots a problem of the past by providing an unobstructed view of what’s behind the car. They also reduce wind noise at high speeds, give the front passenger a better view of the outside world, and in the longer term they’ll allow designers to pen cars that are more aerodynamic.

In the United States, federal and state regulations dictate that every car needs to be equipped with at least one exterior mirror on the driver’s side and a rear-view mirror. However, a handful of automakers — including BMW, Nissan, and Tesla — have asked lawmakers to make mirror-less cars legal, and industry trade journal Automotive News predicts that the technology will show up on our shores around 2018.

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