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I drove a car with the windows blacked out using only its cameras

Driver sitting in driving seat of blacked out Kia EV6
(Image credit: Adam Warner)

Getting into a car with all the windows blacked out is surreal. Being asked to then drive it is a little bit terrifying. 

However, with the advancement of in-car technology and the increasing number of cameras we’re seeing fitted to new vehicles, it is possible to drive a car without being able to see out of the windows.

I got the chance to experience precisely this with the Kia EV6 – the South Korean firm's latest electric car.

The EV6 is stuffed full of cameras, from the wing mirrors to the windshield to the bumpers. This means it can give you a full 360-degree bird's eye view around the car, as well as front- and rear-facing shots. 

The camera on the wing mirrors even gives you views down each side of the vehicle, all of which came in handy when driving without window visibility. 

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View inside from an open driver's door

(Image credit: TechRadar / John McCann)
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Shot through an ajar door looking into the cabin of the EV6

(Image credit: Adam Warner)
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View of the blacked out windshield from outside the car

(Image credit: TechRadar / John McCann)
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Kia EV6 driving round a course in a parking lot

(Image credit: Adam Warner)
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Man standing at open driver's door of a green EV6

(Image credit: Adam Warner)

A new perspective

As the door closed, the interior EV6 darkened considerably. The black vinyl stickers Kia had placed over the windows did allow some ambient light through, but there was zero visibility. 

It felt a little eerie, but as I flicked through the selection of different camera views available to me on the main 12.3-inch display I began to feel a little more confident. 

You'll be pleased to learn this test wasn't taking place on a public road, but rather in a closed car park with a course of cones laid out for me to navigate through. 

I started tentatively as I worked out exactly where the cameras on the car lay and thus where exactly the car was sitting in the maze of cones. 

The first bend, a relatively gentle left hander, went by easily, but then the course narrowed to just wider than the EV6 and pin-point precision was required. 

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View of the blacked out windshield from inside the car

(Image credit: TechRadar / John McCann)
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Driver's view of the blacked out windshield

(Image credit: TechRadar / John McCann)
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Close-up of the main display showing a live view from the cameras

(Image credit: TechRadar / John McCann)
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Close-up of the main display showing a live view from the cameras

(Image credit: TechRadar / John McCann)

I was able to navigate into a parking bay and reverse out without issue, but I then got carried away on a tight left-hander, which saw me eat a cone. 

It was a little disappointing, but I had now got a handle on the size and spacing of the car and was able to complete the rest of course at a decent place without fault. 

So, it is possible to drive a car solely with its inbuilt cameras. Would I recommend it? Well, no. It's obviously nowhere near safe enough to attempt anything like this on the road, but it was a fun demonstration of just how far technology has come.

What this does show is the kind of data available to our cars. Add these live views to the various other sensors and radar systems found in modern EVs and you begin to understand how we're edging ever closer to full autonomy. 

John McCann

John joined TechRadar a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs of some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.