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Porsche racecars see rear views with auto supplier

August 5, 2016
TAGS Gentex
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No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid racecar
The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid racecar speeds around a turn. Courtesy Gentex

An auto supplier is taking a victory lap after its rear-vision system helped Porsche racecar drivers compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race — including the race’s winner.

Zeeland-based Gentex Corporation said last month that its rear-vision system was affixed to the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, which won the race, as well as the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, which finished 13th overall and fifth in its class.

The company said a total of six Porsche drivers, including reigning endurance world champions Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber, drove with the system.

Gentex’s intelligent rear-vision system allowed Porsche drivers to monitor the cars behind them throughout the race.

The system captured video from a rearward-facing camera and streamed it to a mirror-integrated LCD display that provided the drivers with an unobstructed, panoramic view behind the vehicle.

"The Gentex display mirror performed flawlessly," said Porsche driver Mark Webber.

He said the system was a “huge benefit” to all the drivers, offering a “clear, wide, unobstructed rearward view.”

“Le Mans is incredibly demanding — probably the most difficult race in the world to win — and the Gentex system afforded a distinct advantage by providing the ideal rear view,” Webber said.

Gentex is an official supplier of Porsche Motorsports LMP1.

Gentex also said the rear-vision system it designed for Porsche was a unique racing version of its Full Display Mirror, or FDM, system, which is currently available for application on passenger vehicles.

The passenger vehicle version of the Gentex rear-vision system consists of a hybrid Full Display Mirror that offers bi-modal functionality.

In mirror mode, the product functions as a standard rear view mirror. But with the flip of a lever, the mirror enters display mode, and a clear, bright, LCD display appears through the mirror's reflective surface, providing a wide, unobstructed rearward view.

Gentex said the two modes are essential, because should the camera or display become non-operational, the product operates as a standard mirror. The driver can also switch between modes to accommodate usage preferences for various weather conditions and driving tasks.

Gentex said the camera ultimately is custom integrated into the vehicle's rear spoiler or trunk lid, a roof mounted shark-fin antenna or the center high-mounted stop lamp. It is ultra lightweight, aerodynamically optimized and can be heated and coated for better performance in adverse weather conditions.

The FDM system also uses Gentex-designed image processing software developed for high-speed data transmission. 

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