Dr. Andrew Hicks of Drexel University has recently been awarded a patent for a car side mirror that can reportedly eliminate “blind spots”. A blind spot is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly observed by the driver. These blind spots usually occur when the side-view mirror and rear-view mirror block a driver’s view of the road. Dr. Hicks’ curved mirror on the other hand, promises to increase the field of view while minimizing distortion of the images reflected on the mirror. Dr. Hicks explained that traditional flat mirrors have a very narrow field of view. He said that his wide-angle non-distorting mirror has a field of view of about 45 degrees, reportedly better compared to 15 or 17 degrees of view in a flat driver’s side mirror.
The professor allegedly designed his mirror using a mathematical algorithm that precisely controls the angle of light bouncing off of the curving mirror. “Imagine that the mirror’s surface is made of many smaller mirrors turned to different angles like a disco ball. The algorithm is a set of calculations to manipulate the direction of each face of the metaphorical disco ball so that each ray of light bouncing off the mirror shows the driver a wide, but not-too-distorted, picture of the scene behind him,” Dr. Hicks explained. But he noted that his mirror doesn’t really look like a disco ball up close.
Albeit the wide-angle non-distorting mirror is promising, we may not see the technology applied on actual cars soon. Apparently regulations in the U.S. dictate that cars coming off of the assembly line must have a flat mirror on the driver’s side. Curved mirrors will only be allowed given that they will have the “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” tag. As for the Dr. Hicks, he is beginning to gain interest from investors and manufacturers who could pursue opportunities to use the mirror in the near future.