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December 5, 2021

How Mazda's Camera System Is Different From Others

For Mazda, their human-centric design can extend to something as seemingly mundane as their reverse or 360-degree camera.

As a helpful tool used by motorists who have difficulty negotiating tight spots such as parking lots, Mazda applied their know-how to make the system as intuitive and easy to understand as possible.

On the surface, there’s nothing special about Mazda’s camera system. Like all other visual aids, it uses up to four cameras located at the back, front, and sides of the vehicles. If applicable, the video feed is then stitched to create a bird’s eye view of the vehicle enabling drivers to better see their surroundings.

The beauty, though, is in the details, and Mazda’s come up with a display that shows depth and distance.

When a car moves, it moves in a three-dimensional space, but the image displayed on the monitor is two-dimensional. The challenge, therefore, is to create an image wherein the driver can intuitively grasp the distance.

This photo clearly shows what Mazda’s going for. The green lines (added for illustration) show that they intersect at one point to create a sense of depth; similar to paintings or illustrations that use a one-point perspective.

Using a fisheye camera is a start, but the on-board software actually corrects the displayed images to reduce distortions and keep the field of view to what’s just necessary to the driver. For example, the cameras can actually pickup parts of the sky, but that information isn’t necessary when driving, so the software scrubs or cuts that area.

For Mazdas equipped with a 360-degree camera, the system goes further by actually varying the amount of image correction as shown by the green reference lines.

In vehicles such as the Mazda3 and CX-30, the image from the front camera is wider with the left and right fields of view set at about 25 meters (the same can be done with the rear camera). This is a condition set by Mazda in consideration of the driver’s “recognition to judgement to operation mindset” at these speeds. Moreover, as the object gets closer to the car, it’s made to look bigger to help the driver recognize it if it’s approaching from the left or the right, and identify it quickly as a car, motorcycle, or pedestrian.

Meanwhile, when negotiating a narrow road, the left and right cameras can display the curb up to six meters in both directions. This, says Mazda, is appropriate distance enough for the driver to judge passing or maneuvering at low speeds.

At the end, the most basic safety equipment still remains the human person and his senses. However, because there are blind spots to any car, anyone, even seasoned drivers can make a mistake. Mazda’s human-centered camera design is meant to reduce the anxiety making drivers more comfortable in taking the wheel. It also allows people to choose a car not just for its size and perceived maneuverability, but to what actually suits them and their activities.

Photos courtesy of Mazda Corporation.

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