Disco Ball Mirror Technology Could Eliminate Vehicle Blind Spots

Imagine driver and passenger side mirrors that can take in more of the surrounding roadway, thus eliminating a drivers blind spots, that is the idea behind a new Drexel University patent that took its cue from disco balls.

Blind spots are created because your vehicles interior rear view mirror and its side view mirrors are not capable of cover the entire distance between one another. As drivers check over their shoulder during a lane change they are essentially compensating for a lack of visuals from their two mirrors.

By using a concept found in disco balls however scientists have figured out how to cover a larger space with mirror technology.

Mathematics professor Dr. R. Andrew Hicks developed an algorithm that controls the angle and amount of light bouncing off a curved mirror. The project involved using hundreds of subtly curved pieces of glass to create a visual field of scope that increased the standard 15 to 17 degree field of vision found in side-view mirrors to an astounding 45 degrees.

Hicks tells Wired:

“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.”

While a patent has been handed out it will take a change to US laws before it can be used my manufacturers, under current laws a vehicles mirror must be perfectly flat. However that law could be overturned as it was put into place when curved mirrors were only known to cause dangerous distortions.

On the other hand buyers could choose to purchase the mirrors as after market items which can then be installed independently of the manufacturers own work.