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Car mirrors haven’t changed much since, well, forever, and over the years, cars have gone from zero to at least three mirrors in less than 100 years. However, technology is about to change those tried-and-true, rear-looking mirrors. Gentex, an automotive supply company, and Aston Martin are partnering to develop a new camera monitoring system for future Aston models, combining traditional mirrors with a robust and flexible camera system. 

The two collaborated on the design with Aston providing styling and engineering direction. Gentex worked to integrate the cameras, software, and mirror-integrated display. Gentex then partnered with Lumatech to engineer the exterior mirrors. While a full-camera setup is possible, Aston is opting for a hybrid system that would allow drivers to use their vehicle’s traditional mirrors. This also allows drivers to customize the viewing experience to their preference, using cameras or mirrors. 

The key to Gentex’s camera system is its Full Display Mirror, which can function as a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror or an LCD. The system also allows for the system to meet field-of-view regulations set by different government agencies throughout the world thanks to the use of flat or curved glass, depending on the location. The cameras also move when the driver readjusts the view of the traditional mirror. 

Gallery: Aston Martin Gentex Camera Monitoring System

Aston and Gentex will showcase the new camera technology in the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera at CES in Las Vegas, which kicks off next week on January 7. However, it won’t be the only place to see the technology. Gentex recently began shipping its Full Display Mirror for Aston to use in the DBS GT Zagato the automaker revealed earlier this year. 

It’ll be a long time, if ever, until cameras replace traditional mirrors on vehicles. Hybrid systems that leave the conventional mirror as a fail-safe will be the norm until the technology becomes reliable enough for automakers – and consumers – to ditch traditional mirrors. Maybe by then, autonomous cars will rule the road, and mirrors will become irrelevant. 

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Gentex Debuts State-of-the-Art Rear View System for Next-Generation of Aston Martin Vehicles at CES 2020

ZEELAND, Mich., Jan. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Gentex Corporation and Aston Martin announced today they’ve jointly developed a camera-based rear vision system for future Aston Martin vehicles that dramatically improves a driver’s ability to monitor traffic to the rear and sides of the vehicle. Integrated into an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera for demonstration, the first prototype of the system will be displayed in Gentex’s booth at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, next week.

This unique rear vision system – known as a camera monitoring system (CMS) in the automotive industry – uses three cameras to provide a comprehensive view of the sides and rear of the vehicle. Side-view cameras are discretely housed in each of the vehicle’s exterior mirrors; their video feeds are combined with that of a roof-mounted camera and displayed together in multiple composite views that are streamed to the driver via a rear-view mirror-integrated display inside the cockpit.

The Gentex and Aston Martin collaboration is part of an ongoing development program to bring CMS to future Aston Martin vehicles. For the current prototype, Aston Martin provided overall styling and engineering direction; Gentex integrated the system’s cameras, image processing software, and mirror-integrated display; and Gentex partnered with exterior mirror supplier Lumatech to engineer the exterior mirrors.

“The solution that Aston Martin chose is a hybrid CMS technology, meaning that the vehicle incorporates both cameras and standard reflective mirrors for side vision,” said Gentex Chief Technology Officer Neil Boehm. “We believe a hybrid solution is the most practical and comprehensive because it’s engineered to meet automaker, driver, safety and global regulatory requirements.”

A key attribute of a hybrid CMS solution is that it enhances safety by ensuring the system is fail safe. Should weather conditions or system failure disrupt the digital view, drivers can still use their traditional interior and exterior mirrors. The new hybrid CMS also supports user preference and acceptance by permitting drivers to use standard mirror views, camera views, or a combination of both. The system can also be tuned to meet the various regulatory field-of-view requirements around the world by using different types of flat and curved glass, combined with simple alterations to the video viewing modes.

The Gentex/Aston Martin CMS solution also includes a unique auto-adjust feature that dynamically alters the video feeds from the exterior-mirror-integrated cameras to adjust for mirror position. When the driver adjusts the exterior mirrors, the system digitally optimizes the camera field-of-view to provide ideal sideward vision.

“As a global luxury brand, our vehicles combine benchmark beauty and quality with performance and driver-assistance features that evoke a sensory response,” said Aston Martin Chief Marketing Officer Simon Sproule. “The goal of this development program with Gentex is to ultimately implement a unique CMS solution that enriches the Aston Martin driving experience for our customers around the world.”

Central to the hybrid CMS solution is the Gentex rearview-mirror-integrated display known as a Full Display Mirror (FDM). The FDM can function as either a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror or as an LCD display. When used as a display for CMS, the driver can choose between various viewing modes that present the three camera feeds in various intuitive combination views.

Gentex recently began shipping its FDM for use in the 2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato. The FDM was integral in supporting the next evolution of evocative Aston Martin Zagato design language without compromising rearward visibility. Featuring a sharply raked full-length carbon fiber roof that references the voluptuous shapes of the original DB4 GT Zagato, the DBS GT Zagato FDM streams live video from a single, rearward-facing camera to provide a clear, bright, panoramic view behind the vehicle.

CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technology. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association™, it has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for over 50 years. This year’s show runs January 7-10 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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