LG Electronics is patenting a bendable side mirror that automatically adjusts according to the vehicle’s position on the road and other driving conditions.
The technology applies the same principle informing the design of side mirrors today, at least in the U.S. While driver-side mirrors are flat, passenger-side mirrors are convex to allow a wider field of view for the vehicle operator. LG’s invention implements this accommodation in real-time, giving drivers as much information as possible across various situations. Even satellites may sport bendable mirrors in the future. Engineers from MIT have explored the technology as a way to give research satellites the best view of distant planets. The same approach has been employed for years at ground-based observatories.
An example of bendable side mirrors at work. The bending driver (890) manipulates the curvature of the mirror to provide a clearer view of other vehicles (101, 102).
LG stated its side mirrors may be made of “bendable material,” without mentioning a specific one. Conventional side mirrors are made of chrome glass, which is not readily bendable.
The patent application mentions that the driver within a vehicle going through a curve in the road has the control of the side mirror and can be guided by information about the situation surrounding the vehicle. This may include data on passengers, locations, and the car itself, gathered by cameras and sensors. For instance, the side mirrors may be adjusted based on information about a lane, an obstacle, another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a traffic sign. LG also mentions a “driving manipulation device” that processes how a car is being operated. This means the side mirrors may bend as the steering wheel is turned or as the vehicle gains speed.
LG’s example of the bending driver in operation is when it changes the curvature of the side mirror proportional to the “junction angle,” which is between the direction of a first lane in which the vehicle travels and the direction of a second lane that the first lane joins. The larger the junction angle, the larger the curvature of the mirror.
LG is better known for its consumer electronics and appliances, but the South Korean company also has a vehicle component arm. In 2020, LG entered a billion-dollar joint venture with automotive supplier Magna International. LG Magna e-Powertrain is aimed at producing key components for electric vehicles. Hence, the automatic side mirror described in the patent application may end up being manufactured by the new joint venture.
The featured patent application, “Side Mirror for Vehicles and Vehicle”, was filed with the USPTO on August 7, 2018 and published thereafter on June 24, 2021. The listed applicant is LG Electronics Inc. The listed inventors are Kihoon Han, Daebum Kim, Hyukmin Eum, and Vassily Kuznetsov.