Rear camera does quadruple duty in Nissan Altima

Novel technology application brings luxury-car safety features to Altima family sedan

Published: October 29, 2012, 11:00 PM

Nissan Altima Rear Camera Image

Rear-view cameras have become common features on today's cars. And "lane departure warning" and "blind-spot warning" are now offered on many, particularly those with luxury nameplates.

Nissan has combined the three safety features and added a fourth in a novel way – all based on the rear-facing camera – making them cost-effective features on the new mid-size Nissan Altima.

In addition to its normal rear-view function, which operates when the transmission is placed in reverse, the specially-developed rear camera constantly scans the roadway for lane markers, even when the car is moving forward.

If the camera and its related software detect the car leaving the boundaries of its lane, an indicator light comes on and an audible warning sounds.

In addition, if the camera detects another vehicle in the driver's blind spot area, a "blind-spot warning" icon lights up. If the warning is ignored and the driver activates a turn signal, in preparation for a lane change, a beeping cue also beings to sound.

"Moving object detection" is fourth feature enabled by the rear camera. When a driver puts the car in reverse, the camera scans the area behind and if a moving object is detected in the area, a yellow frame appears around the rear camera image in the central screen and a beeping prompt sounds.

In most vehicles, such features usually require additional sensors and cameras, but Nissan's 2013 Altima does it all using only one camera.

The Altima's rear camera also includes a world-first self-cleaning capability. A drop of windshield wiper cleaning solution is regularly carried from the front of the car to the back and released onto the camera lens. Then an air compressor releases a burst of air to finish the cleaning process and dry the camera.