Electronic Driver Aids — Bird’s Eye or Panoramic View Camera

      M​aking driving safer and less stressful

      4w ago

      6.4K

      There was a time when the only devices on your vehicle to assist you when backing up were your rear-view mirrors. I can still remember backing my car carefully into a parking space only to come to a sudden stop, having backed up right into a concrete flower planter. To add insult to injury, I was parking to attend an event for automotive journalists!

      A​s beautiful as they were back then, cars were pretty low tech compared to today

      A​s beautiful as they were back then, cars were pretty low tech compared to today

      As a result of my wish to be able to back up more safely, I was acutely aware of the advent of electronic driver aids. You’ve probably seen those round button-like things embedded into bumpers. They are sensors which trigger an audible alert, to warn you that your path is obstructed by something.

      Sensors in the bumper trigger an audible alert when you get close to something

      Sensors in the bumper trigger an audible alert when you get close to something

      Some other vehicles were beginning to be available with the first backup cameras, enabling you to actually see what was behind you. The best of those new backup cameras added an overlay of estimated course guide lines, to show you where your vehicle’s sides would be on your rearward path, and where the back of your car was.

      E​stimated course guide lines for the backup camera on the 2015 Ford Fusion

      E​stimated course guide lines for the backup camera on the 2015 Ford Fusion

      Until about two months ago, my most recent daily driver was a 2012 Toyota Plug-in Prius hybrid. It did not have those sensors but it did have a backup camera, with a wide-angle lens. Unfortunately, though, it lacked the estimated course guide lines overlay that would have showed me where the sides of my car would be if I backed up, and another line showing me where my rear bumper was. As a result of not having those lines, it was not possible to see where my car was well enough to avoid hitting something. It helped a little but not much.

      V​olvo XC40 Bird's Eye View Camera

      V​olvo XC40 Bird's Eye View Camera

      V​olvo XC40 with Bird's Eye View Camera

      V​olvo XC40 with Bird's Eye View Camera

      As the years progressed, I was determined to make sure that my next daily driver not only had a backup camera with those lines, but that it also had a full suite of electronic driver aids. Now I have one. It is a fully loaded 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE Premium.

      2​021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE Premium

      2​021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE Premium

      Other auto manufacturers have similar tech, but since mine is a Toyota and that is what I am most familiar with, let’s use Toyota’s as our example of the tech. That includes a “Bird’s Eye View Camera,” which I love. That provides a simulated bird’s eye view (since there is nothing flying over my RAV4 to shoot stills and videos), but it is also so much more.

      U​sing the Bird's Eye View Camera technology to help park close to the edge of the parking space

      U​sing the Bird's Eye View Camera technology to help park close to the edge of the parking space

      Before I go on, I’d like to share with you some important advice. There was a time, long ago, when we could buy a new vehicle, get in and just drive it. It was quite possible to be able to intuitively figure it out how it worked mostly by driving it. The owner’s manual was helpful as a supplement, for learning the fine points. That is no longer true.

      Today’s vehicles, and their optimal operation, are extremely technical and complicated. I knew my new RAV4 had this Bird’s Eye View Camera feature, and I thought I could just get in and figure it out for myself. Not so much. It turned on automatically when I was driving really, really slowly, but there were several on-screen buttons and I really couldn’t figure out when I needed them and what they would do. All of that is explained in the “Panoramic View Monitor” section of the “RAV4 PRIME 2021 Navigation and Multimedia System Owner’s Manual” (pages 197-231).

      S​ee through view

      S​ee through view

      S​ide views

      S​ide views

      I also found this very helpful and easy-to-digest, approximately three-minute instructional video that was produced by Toyota USA in 2016: www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2PTeVgdYB0

      F​ront camera

      F​ront camera

      O​ne of the two side cameras

      O​ne of the two side cameras

      R​ear camera

      R​ear camera

      After heading out to my RAV4 and trying out some of the button presses while parked in my garage, it looks to me like not much has changed with this option since the appearance of that 2016 video. The option was great then, and it still is. I highly recommend getting it.

      This feature operates while stopped and up to six miles per hour. Greatest accuracy is dependent on being on flat road surfaces. Views that may be available include bird’s eye, side, front, rear and corners (individual or all), plus audible warnings and the aforementioned overlay of guide lines — all of which may be of great assistance to you when parking or driving slowly. This sure beats relying solely on those rear view mirrors.

      O​ne of four corner views

      O​ne of four corner views

      S​ee through view

      S​ee through view

      Copyright © 2020 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #665r1

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      Comments (8)

      • Both my parents cars have that

          29 days ago
      • My Prius can park itself supposedly, though we haven’t tried it as it takes 4000 years and a degree in software to setup.

          1 month ago
        • Daman, I'm not sure that I am ready to trust a car of mine to drive itself. I like driver 'aids,' not driver 'replacements.' Not yet. I do not think that the technology is quite there yet. I also agree with your point that these systems are not...

          Read more
            30 days ago
      • I learnt to drive without these aids, and I never reversed into anything. Well not hard anyway. Then I got a car with rear “beepers” and I found them quite helpful, and I never reversed into anything. Well, not hard anyway. A year and a bit ago I bought a Mercedes GLA, and it has “beepers” front and back and also a reversing camera. The other day I was reversing and the beepers were going, so I looked at the rear camera image. I couldn’t see anything there, so I reversed. Into a lamp post. I now have a dent in my bumper. I guess what I’m saying here is that it doesn’t matter how many parking aids you have, if you ignore all the warnings, you’re still going to crash your car. By the way, it’s also got this thing where it does the whole parking thing for you which is way cool.

          1 month ago
        • Hi Adam,

          Thanks for your comments. I have a possible theory for why you backed into that light pole. Within the many pages of one of my two RAV4 Prime owner's manuals, it says that the four cameras that are used to show the images have blind...

          Read more
            1 month ago

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