In Brief
Mitsubishi's new technology forgoes the need for cars to have side and rear mirrors. Mirrorless cars were approved for use in 2016, and the carmaker expects to sell the first model as early as next year.

A Car Without Mirrors

Self-driving cars are already asking people to put AI systems in control of their vehicles. Now, Mitsubishi wants to rid its new cars of one of the last relics of the past: the rear-view mirror.

The automotive manufacturer announced this week that it has developed the industry’s highest performing automotive camera technology. When installed on a vehicle, it can detect objects up to 100 meters (328 feet) away, and boosts object detection accuracy from a previous 14 percent to 81 percent.

Mitsubishi explains their new cameras utilize their own Maisart AI, which has the ability to accurately differentiate between pedestrians, cars, and motorcycles. Ultimately, the cameras are expected to help prevent traffic accidents, such as those happening when drivers zig zag between lanes. This is only an early version of Mitsubishi’s technology, as the company explains it wants the cameras to perform better in bad weather, at night, and on winding roads.

Your Safety Matters

This isn’t the first effort aimed at improving the “sight” of cars. In December, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and NASA veteran Luis Dussan partnered to form AEye, a company hoping to create new sensors for driverless cars. And beyond camera technology, Mitsubishi proposed a new safety system that would project symbols on the ground to inform other drivers and pedestrians of the driver’s actions.

Mirrorless cars were approved for use in Japan and Europe in 2016, so Mitsubishi had plenty of time to develop and test the experimental cameras. The carmaker foresees mirrorless cars hitting the market in Japan in 2019.

Beyond improving their safety through an array of digital eyes keener than those of any human driver, Engadget notes that removing the side mirrors from cars would make them more aerodynamic and allow for greater speed and fuel efficiency. Depending on the success of  the new vehicles, other automakers may soon follow Mitsubishi’s lead, speeding up the development of their own mirrorless cars.