Fresh from taking its victory laps at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi's innovative digital rearview mirror that saw its first fitment in the dominating R18 e-tron Quattro and R18 ultra TDI turbodiesel LMP1 racers is set to move to the streets. Fittingly, the initial road-going application for the slick camera-based digital rearview assist will be in the low-volume 2013 Audi e-tron that will start its limited-production run at the end of the year. Like the R18s, the e-tron also lacks a conventional back glass, making this compact, lightweight, and energy-efficient camera/monitor package a natural replacement for a conventional rearview mirror.
Audi's "intelligent" alternative matches a tiny rear-facing camera housed in an aerodynamically optimized, heated housing located just below the e-tron's high-mount stop light with a full-color 7.7-inch AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) display inside the cabin. Sourced from development partner Samsung Display Co., LTD, it features organic materials that are self-illuminating at a low voltage, eliminating the need for backlighting. A controller unit ensures consistently bright, high-contrast images and automatically switches into an anti-dazzle mode when the vehicle is driven in the dark.
In addition to providing an even wider field of view than a regular mirror, this digital system allows the driver to dim or deactivate the display at any time. Audi also is working on allowing the screen to present additional kinds of supplemental information. While the current technology and component costs effectively limit its application, the automaker still expects to see it enter more widespread use in the years ahead.