Long among the technological leaders of the automotive world, Audi is pushing forward with a new feature that while not especially significant now, could one day change the design and aesthetic of future cars— the digital rear view mirror.
Audi is adopting the digital rear view mirror it employs on its R18 race car, and transporting it to the street-legal production model Audi R8 e-TRon. Why a digital mirror? Because like the R18, the R8 e-Tron, doesn’t have a rear window. Normally cars are required to have a rear window as rear visibility is necessary to drive a vehicle safely. Using a small camera in the rear—not unlike current camera’s used for backing up—Audi is able to transmit the images on to a 7.7-inch AMOLED screen that even boasts some advantages over a traditional rear-view mirror. The screen isn’t affected by the glare of bright headlights coming from cars in the rear that can often temporarily impair a driver’s vision. The screen can also be adjusted for brightness, and even shut off. While only a very limited number of these rear view digital mirrors will see use in the Audi R8 e-Tron, such technology could expand future possibilities. Designers, no longer hampered by poor sight-lines from a narrow or small rear window, may have a greater range of possibility in design. Technology often trickles down through luxury automakers, and eventually makes its way on to higher-volume, more accessibly priced models. Audi hopes to add additional information and capability to the screen in the future.