Safety features for cars have evolved exponentially in the past decade or so. We have smart safety features like forward collision warnings and automatic emergency brakes to warn us and immediately halt the vehicle when it senses something (or someone!) that it might bump into. However, we have the most basic type of safety feature that all vehicles have nowadays -- and it is the backup camera.
The backup camera’s design is very distinct from other cameras because it shows a mirrored image that is flipped horizontally. This makes the orientation consistent with the vehicle’s mirrors. Backup cameras usually are pointed at a downward angle as opposed to straight back to view obstacles on the ground. It is also typically wired to sense when the vehicle transmission is set to reverse. It also typically shows grid guidelines or lines to aid the driver in parking.
The first vehicle that had a backup camera installed was a 1956 Buick Centurion Dream car and was presented at a General Motors Motorama in January 1956. A television camera was mounted at the back of the vehicle and the images it recorded were sent to a screen in the dashboard and replaced its rear-view mirror.
The first production vehicle to incorporate a backup camera was a 1991 Toyota Soarer Limited that was only available in Japan. It used a color EMV screen with a rear-spoiler-mounted CCD camera.
In April 2000, at the 2000 New York International Auto Show, Nissan’s Infiniti luxury division introduced the RearView Monitor on a 2002 Q45 flagship sedan. They introduced colored onscreen guidelines that transmitted a mirrored image on an in-dash LCD screen. In 2002, the Nissan Primera introduced this backup camera system to territories outside North America and Japan.
Here in the United States, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that all vehicles sold in the United States that were built from May 2018 onwards are required to include backup cameras. The NHTSA conducted a research and they found out that rearview cameras should be able to prevent around 65 deaths a year once this mandate was implemented. Studies also have shown that backup cameras can reduce the driver’s blind spot by around 90% and it definitely is a big help preventing collisions or crashes.
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