The BMW i8 is one of the most innovative and futuristic sports cars on the market today.
At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, BMW showed off a new prototype version of the hybrid sports car featuring a series of cameras that replace the traditional side-view mirrors. One camera is located on each of the i8’s doors, along with a central camera located near the top of the rear windshield.
The prototype’s cameras feed their footage into a large 12-inch-by-3-inch central screen, which is located where the rear-view mirror would normally be. Images from all three cameras are stitched together to form one large wide picture.
Initially, driving the i8 prototype — dubbed the i8 Mirrorless — proved to be kind of a bizarre experience. Having been trained to drive using each of the car’s mirrors, turning toward the mirror and seeing nothing proves to be disconcerting — especially when it comes time to change lanes.
However, once you learn to trust the central display, the driving experience becomes no different than that of the standard, mirror-equipped i8.
The BMW i8 is a car with which I’m well acquainted. Last summer, I took a production i8 on a 750-mile road trip up the New England coast.
The i8 was quiet, comfortable and impressively efficient while cruising on the highway. It offered precise handling and swift acceleration when the driving got dynamic.
On the crowded streets of Las Vegas, the i8 Mirrorless showed off the value of its cameras. The side-mounted mirror successfully augments the reach of the driver’s peripheral vision. And the cameras offer the driver a view of the car’s surrounding area free of dangerous blind spots.
The camera is also capable of warning the driver when a fast-approaching car gets in your blind spot while you’re changing lanes. The side cameras are covered with heated gorilla glass which keeps the lenses free of ice and dirt.
One side-effect of the cameras’ smaller cross-section actually makes the i8 Mirrorless more aerodynamic than the production variant.
The side mirror-mounted cameras create an air blanket around the side of the car that keeps rain from accumulating on the side windows when you’re driving faster than 50mph.