The easiest way to explain how a common 360 car camera system works, is that is uses 4 cameras mounted on the car to give the impression of a 360 degree view from the top of the car. While 4 cameras is the minimum amount to give it a 360 degree viewing field, some cars may have 8 or more cameras as part of their “birds eye” or virtual overhead view of the car, that often give it the appearance as though there is a drone flying over your car and feeding live video right on to your car screen.
Typically, the car will have one camera mounted on the front grill, one on the back tailgate or bumper area and one on each of the side mirrors. These 4+ videos are then stitched together as seamlessly as possible and shown wrapped around an image of your car.
How can it see the top of the car?
Using the 4 or more cameras mounted on the car, the video footage can be stitched together almost seamlessly to give the appearance of one solid wrap around 360° live video feed. In the center of this video, a fake image of your car is superimposed in the middle. The software for the panoramic view is programmed at the factory to be setup for your car. So if your car is silver and has a sunroof, the program would use a fake picture including those features of your car. So in short, it doesn’t actually see the top of your car, it just puts a fake image in place of your car.
Video from Toyota explaining their Bird’s Eye View camera system
What cars have 360 degree cameras?
Many newer cars will have the option of a 360 surround view system. This is often and upgrade, which is sometimes part of a parking assist, or self parking system package.
If the car you are interested has features such as forward collision warning, lane departure alerts, blind spot detection or forward collision warning, the car may also offer a 360 camera system.
How do you install a 360 camera in your car?
There are a number of after market 360 degree camera systems you can buy to install in your car. These can be more difficult to install than a traditional front and rear dash cam because the 4 camera lenses need to be installed on the outside of your car, which means there is more work involved routing all the wires. Most people will have a panorama car camera system installed by a car professional or shop, however, if you do decide to install the camera system yourself, there are many tutorials online for any given camera brand and system.
Because you are dealing with having 4 external camera mounted to your car, you need to take special care in ensuring that all the wires and holes are fully waterproofed. This is usually fairly easy to do with the supplied rubber gaskets and adding any additional silicone caulking where needed.