Blind spots have always presented a problem for drivers. A new side mirror, invented by Dr. R. Andrew Hicks, mathematics professor at Drexel University, hopes to change that. As ScienceDaily reported on June 7, 2012 on their website, the new side mirror that eliminates the blind spot for drivers received a U.S. patent. The mirror, which has a subtle curve to it, increases a driver’s field of view dramatically with only a minimal amount of distortion.

Side mirror with warning legend
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vehicles that currently have traditional flat mirrors on the driver’s side, ScienceDaily reports, allow drivers to have a good sense of the distance of vehicles that are behind them, but the problem with these mirrors is that they have a narrow field of view. Because of this very narrow field of view, an area behind the car falls into a driver’s blind spot. In this blind area, drivers can’t see what may be in it by using the side or rear-view mirror. Curved mirrors have a wider field of view and eliminate the blind spot, but they also distort how things look. Objects that a driver sees in a curved mirror look much smaller and appear farther away than they really are.

The new mirror that Hicks developed for the driver’s side has a field of view that’s roughly 45 degrees—much wider than 15 to 17 degrees field of view that’s found in a traditional flat mirror on the driver’s side. And the big difference for drivers is that Hicks’ mirror does not distort the scene that the driver is looking at by a noticeable amount.

Using mathematics, Hicks designed an algorithm to determine how to shape the mirror he patented. The new mirror will not make an appearance on the American car market anytime soon, however, as regulations in the United States mandate that new cars have to have a flat mirror on the driver’s side. Only the passenger-side mirror can be a curved mirror if it includes the language on it that  says “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” The new mirrors may be manufactured, and drivers and mechanics can install Hicks’ mirror on vehicles after they are purchased, as an aftermarket product, ScienceDaily explains.

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