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Technical Paper

Effects of Large-Radius Convex Rearview Mirrors on Driver Perception

The U.S. currently requires that reai-view mirrors installed as original equipment in the center and driver-side positions be flat. There has recently been interest in using nonplanar mirrors in those positions, including possibly mirrors with large radii (over 2 m). This has provided additional motivation to understand the effects of mirror curvature on drivers' perceptions of distance and speed. This paper addresses this issue by (1) reviewing the concepts from perceptual theory that are most relevant to predicting and understanding how drivers judge distance in nonplanar rearview mirrors, and (2) reviewing the past empirical studies that have manipulated mirror curvature and measured some aspect of distance perception. The effects of mirror curvature on cues for distance perception do not lead to simple predictions. The most obvious model is one based on visual angle, according to which convex mirrors should generally lead to overestimation of distances.
Technical Paper

Driver Perceptual Adaptation to Nonplanar Rearview Mirrors

This study examined perceptual adaptation to nonplanar (spherical convex and aspheric) rearview mirrors. Subjects made magnitude estimates of the distance to a car seen in a rearview mirror. Three different mirrors were used: plane, aspheric (with a large spherical section having a radius of 1400 mm), and simple convex (with a radius of 1000 mm). Previous research relevant to perceptual adaptation to nonplanar mirrors was reviewed. It was argued that, in spite of some cases of explicit interest in the process of learning to use nonplanar mirrors, previous research has not adequately addressed the possibility of perceptual adaptation. The present experiment involved three phases: (1) a pretest phase in which subjects made distance judgments but received no feedback, (2) a training phase in which they made judgments and did receive feedback, and (3) a posttest phase with the same procedure as the pretest phase.
Technical Paper

On-the-Road Visual Performance with Electrochromic Rearview Mirrors

This study was part of a series of studies on variable-reflectance rearview mirrors. Previous work included laboratory studies of human visual performance, field collection of photometric data, and mathematical modeling of the visual benefits of variable-reflectance mirrors. We extended that work in this study by collecting photometric and human-performance data while subjects drove in actual traffic. Three mirror conditions were investigated: (1) fixed-reflectance mirrors in the center and driver-side positions, (2) a variable-reflectance mirror in the center with a fixed-reflectance mirror on the driver side, and (3) variable-reflectance mirrors in both positions. The fixed and variable reflectivities were produced by the same mirrors by overriding the circuitry that normally controlled reflectance in the variable mode.