Citing it as a way to improve aerodynamics and gain more flexibility in creating new technologies, Daimler Trucks North America, parent company of Freightliner and Western Star, has petitioned the U.S. DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking it to allow camera-monitor systems as a compliance alternative to rearview mirrors.
Federal regulations currently require heavy-duty trucks to be equipped with rearview mirrors from the manufacturer.
But, Daimler argues in its petition, modern camera-based systems can do the job just as good as rearview mirrors if not better, and it’ll allow truck makers to avoid the aerodynamic drag that comes with chunks of metal and mirror hanging on each side of the tractor.
Camera systems expand truck operators’ fields of view and give them better viewing angles of what’s happening around their vehicle, Daimler says. From its petition: “Camera systems can eliminate blind spots and furnish an unimpeded view in all directions, encompassing multiple lanes.”
And the aerodynamic benefits, while improving fuel economy, also lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with fuel consumption.
In the building of the Freightliner SuperTruck concept vehicle unveiled this year, Daimler said it hoped to not have to use rearview mirrors in the finished product. But to make the truck road legal — prior to NHTSA’s review of its exemption petition — Freightliner had to equip the rig with a small mirror on each side.
However, as you can see in the photos below, they’re not really needed, as Freightliner also equipped the SuperTruck with the camera-monitoring system that could make rearview mirrors obsolete.
Here are photos of both the SuperTruck’s rearview mirror setup and the one used in the Freightliner Inspiration, the company’s recently revealed semi-autonomous truck:
SuperTruck camera system: