What’s behind your car?

PhysOrg knows, thanks to this math professor’s blind-spot-eliminating side-view mirror:

A side mirror that eliminates the dangerous “blind spot” for drivers has now received a U.S. patent. The subtly curved mirror, invented by Drexel University mathematics professor Dr. R. Andrew Hicks, dramatically increases the field of view with minimal distortion.

Hicks’s driver’s side mirror has a field of view of about 45 degrees, compared to 15 to 17 degrees of view in a flat driver’s side mirror. Unlike in simple curved mirrors that can squash the perceived shape of objects and make straight lines appear curved, in Hicks’s mirror the visual distortions of shapes and straight lines are barely detectable.

Hicks, a professor in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences, designed his mirror using a mathematical algorithm that precisely controls the angle of light bouncing off of the curving mirror.

“Imagine that the mirror’s surface is made of many smaller mirrors turned to different angles, like a disco ball,” Hicks said. “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.”

Because of current regulations, it’ll only be available as an after-market add-on for the next few years. But eventually, something like this should be on new cars fresh from the factory.

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