Ahh, the dreaded “blind spot”. At its least damaging, it caused you to side swipe your parents’ sedan back in high school while you were backing down the driveway. At its worst…well, at its worst, it’s deadly.
Blind spots cause a staggering amount of accidents each year; more than 413,000. As a tragic result, more than 160,000 people lose their lives annually.
For Dr. R. Andrew Hicks, a Math Professor at Drexel University, these statistics didn’t sit well. In response, he created a side view mirror that is free of that nasty blind spot.
As opposed to the standard version found on most vehicles, Dr. Hicks compares his mirror design to that of a disco ball. “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.”
This lack of distortion is what sets Dr. Hicks’ design apart from other curved side view mirrors. Everyone has read the warning “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” which is required by law to be put on vehicular mirrors with any slight curve. This is because the design of these mirrors causes distortion, even with such a slight angle of curvature.
Standard mirrors give the driver a view of about 15 to 17 degrees, but still do not display the scene accurately, making it more difficult for a driver to judge the distance of objects or their exact location. Hicks’ mirror gives the driver a remarkable 45 degree view with virtually no distortion. The distance of objects is true to appearance, and straight lines appear straight, unlike the curved effect produced by mirrors less technologically advanced.
With a patent recently awarded to Dr. Hicks for his breakthrough design, the mirrors will hopefully be on the market soon. Because the mirrors are still so very new, they will not be featured on brand new cars in the immediate future. However, when they do hit the market, you can likely purchase one as an aftermarket addition for your vehicle. And as far as aftermarket parts are concerned, one that could help save thousands of lives every year seems like a good investment for any vehicle owner.
Find out more about this new mirror technology: http://phys.org/news/2012-06-math-professor-side-mirror-patent.html