Side mirror ‘blind spots' could be a thing of the past after a Drexel University mathematics professor, Dr. R. Andrew Hicks, received a U.S. patent to develop his "disco ball-inspired" design.
Dr. Hicks' design consists of a slightly curved mirror that provides a field of view of around 45 degrees in contrast with the 15 degrees offered in conventional side mirrors.
He designed the mirror based upon a mathematical algorithm that controls the angle of light bouncing off of the curved mirror, meaning that distortions of shapes and straight lines are barely detectable unlike those seen in a simple curved mirror.
"Imagine that the mirror's surface is made of many smaller mirrors turned to different angles, like a disco ball," explains Dr Hicks. "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."
Conventional flat mirrors give drivers a realistic sense of the distance of cars behind them, but have a narrow field of vision leading to a blind spot that cannot be seen in either the rear-view mirror or the side mirror.
Due to U.S. regulations that dictate production cars must have a flat mirror on the driver's side, it is highly unlikely that they will be installed on U.S. cars anytime soon. The mirrors, however, could possibly be developed and sold as an aftermarket product that can be installed post-purchase.
Dr. Hicks has already received interest from investors and manufacturers who could be tempted to work to license and produce the mirror.