Audi's digital rearview mirror is officially going from the Le Mans clobbering, race-only Audi R18 to the road-going R8 e-tron (click the image above to enlarge). Lacking a rear window put the R8 e-tron in the same rear-view challenged category as its racing brethren, and so has been provided the same solution.

The 7.7-inch AMOLED screen receives the feed from a tiny camera just a few millimeters across. The screen is dimmable, will automatically reduce the glare from the headlights of cars behind, and can be switched off if the driver just isn't with it. For now, it appears the screen will just display the camera image, but Audi says it's working on adding more information to the display in the future. You can find out more about it in the press release below.
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From motorsport to series production: the digital rear-view mirror

- Intelligent camera/monitor system ensures an ideal view
- New technology goes into series production with the Audi R8 e-tron
- Successful debut in the Audi R18 Le Mans race car


Ingolstadt, 2012-08-09 -- Audi is set to make driving even safer with a new technology: the digital rear-view mirror delivers brilliant images and is due to enter small-scale production in the Audi R8 e-tron at the end of this year. This model – like the current Le Mans winners – has no rear window and hence no conventional rear-view mirror. Its high-tech successor is the digital rear-view mirror – a camera/monitor system.

A control unit produces a consistent high-contrast, brilliant image. During the hours of darkness the intelligent control system prevents dazzle from the headlights of other vehicles. The driver can dim or deactivate the display at any time. Audi is also working on incorporating additional information on the monitor in future.

The small, ultra-lightweight camera is located in an aerodynamically optimized housing which is heated in cold temperatures. It uses a lens with a diameter of just a few millimeters and covers a much larger field of vision than a conventional rear-view mirror. A color monitor with a 7.7-inch screen diagonal mounted in place of a conventional rear-view mirror is used to display the digital image data from the camera. This AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) display, which comes from development partner Samsung Display Co., LTD, is making its debut in a passenger car. The organic materials used in the display are self-illuminating at a low voltage – i.e. they do not require backlighting. The AMOLED technology has already proved widely successful in cell phones and similar devices in the consumer segment.

The new displays are more energy-efficient, thinner, and lighter than conventional LCD monitors. Switching times are just a few milliseconds irrespective of the ambient temperature.

The digital rear-view mirror celebrated its dazzling premiere at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the R18 e-tron quattro and R18 ultra race cars which gave Audi a one-two-three win in the legendary race. The new system proved reliable even under the grueling race conditions.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      krona2k
      • 2 Years Ago
      The rules should be reversed, passive mirror inside which has no impact on efficiency, electronic mirrors for the sides. Obviously for vehicles that have no rear view should be allowed electronic ones and maybe should enforce a drivers side passive mirror.
      mapoftazifosho
      • 2 Years Ago
      This isn't necessarily for the US market. Plus, you could always have a mirror finish when the screen is turned off. I had one on my old iPhone. It was kinda cool, but ultimately cheap and hard to keep clean...
        Peter
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mapoftazifosho
        and of course a mirror finish would be useful for an inside screen that is replacing a side rear-view mirror how?
      Grendal
      • 2 Years Ago
      It would be nice if Audi foot the bill to get an antiquated rule off the books. Then lots of other auto makers could also take advantage of the aerodynamics improving idea. For most cars this would add 1 to 2 MPG at highway speeds maybe.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        Exactly. They need to get rid of the side mirrors. Perhaps this center mirror will show how good video systems can be and thus garner acceptance for getting rid of the aerodynamic drag creating side mirrors.
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        Auto manufacturers are struggling hard to pull out every extra MPG out of an engine, so you'd think they'd be all over this 5% to 10% improvement. It won't have a big impact on city mileage but highway numbers will definitely be affected.
          Nick
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          Rotation Actually side mirrors cause a huge amount of drag, which can translate in 5-10% in mpg. Grendal Also, the prices on cameras/displays is coming down. A conventional side view mirror is already full of electronics (power adjustment, heaters etc..) and costs quite a bit of money, maybe not much more than a small camera.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          Wing mirrors are located in a place where the air splits anyway due to the rise in the windshield. So their aerodynamic drag is reduced. But even disregarding this, you are not going to get 5-10% better mpg by eliminating wing mirrors. They do not account for that much drag. Heck, you can put a roof rack on your car which adds more drag than both wing mirrors combined and you don't get 5% worse mpg.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          You aren't going to get 5%-10% improvement by eliminating wing mirrors.
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      More screens to look at........very good. I already spend all day on the computer, the last thing I want is another one in my car.
      BRKF06
      • 2 Years Ago
      No thanks. You can see more of the road by titling your head left right with a real mirror. This is the same reason the lcd outside cameras don't work. You can't set a monitor to give you the correct field of vision because what you require is always changing.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Did NHTSA change the rules on mirrors? I thought only passive devices were allowed?
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        The NHTSA doesn't have authority in Germany, surprisingly.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        There are vans with no rear windows so I assume there is an exception for center mirrors.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          In the US at least, if you have two wing mirrors, you don't have to have a center mirror. This is how RVs get by too.
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      The digital rear-view mirror did not celebrate its dazzling premiere at the Le Mans of 24 Hours in the R18 e-tron quattro and R18 ultra race cars. The Corvette C6R has had a digital-rear view mirror (including at Le Mans!) for 5 or 6 years now.
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