Imagine an animal like a cow in regards to eye positioning; they can look forward to lessen their frontal blindspot a bit but assume that doing that for a prolonged amount of time is straining.

What would their high speed transportation look like if they have a large front blindspot without using something like a camera?

In writing this I think a system of mirrors could work, but if that's what they use, how would they be positioned where they can still look comfortably?

  • $\begingroup$ Some of the world's fastest animals have eyes on the sides of their heads, but they don't look to one side as they full sprint. $\endgroup$ – frеdsbend Apr 27 '19 at 2:20
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    $\begingroup$ People aren't good at driving either, but their eyes face forward. They run over stuff and into each other all the time, even when the roads are good. Whether eyes forward or to the sides, if the species moves in a straight line across the ground, they'll drive the same way. A different existential problem is believing a prey species develops intelligence enough to drive in the first place. $\endgroup$ – frеdsbend Apr 27 '19 at 2:30
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    $\begingroup$ Cows and horses do not have a "frontal blindspot". Where did you get this idea? Yes, their field of binocular vision is narrower than ours, but it is good enough. Only two kinds of animals need such a good 3D (aka "stereoscopic") vision that they have evoloved to have forward-facing eyes: carnivores who obtain their food by actively catching prey, and us primates who live up in the trees. Note that our exquisite stereoscopic vision comes with a reduced field of view; humans have a f.o.v. of about 170° (of which about 100° binocular), while a cow has a f.o.v. of about 270° (45° binocular). $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 27 '19 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ Wide field of view, well focussed in the periphery, sensitive to motion and danger? I suspect that fast transport for uplifted cows would look a lot safer than yours, ape. They probably wouldn't have RYG traffic signals, though. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Apr 27 '19 at 9:04
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    $\begingroup$ @fredsbend There are three species of elephants that are herbivores with eyes on the sides of their heads and brains larger than humans and which display high intelligence levels roughly comparable to humans. $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding Apr 27 '19 at 17:52

Cow field of view is pretty broad

With their eyes positioned on the side of the head, cattle have panoramic vision of 330° and binocular vision of 25°–50°, which allows for good predator awareness (Phillips, 1993). Despite the wide set of their eyes, however, they do have a blind spot directly behind them (see below).

cattle field of view

The only blind spot is on their back, like we human also have.

However, compared to our field of view, their is broader. This would affect the design of a car, in that all those vertical parts that we use to hold glasses would effectively hamper their vision, while for us are pretty marginal.

enter image description here

Provided that those are eliminated, cyclists and cowclists would be safer (and others with them), not having to worry about the driver blind spot.

The car would just need to have a wider windshield, to reduce obstacles to the field of view. Something like the bubble canopy one sees on fighter jet would be useful.

aircraft canopy

  • $\begingroup$ Fighter jets, notably, don't require good rollover strength and crush resistance. A bubble canopy capable of withstanding the weight of an entire vehicle and cow family might be Quite Expensive. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Apr 27 '19 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime, fighter jets impact birds at way higher velocity than cars do, and the canopy has to withstand it $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Apr 27 '19 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ Impact resistance is not the same as crush resistance. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Apr 27 '19 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps I used the incorrect wording. Cows do not have an actual blindspot in the front, rather their visual acuity is poorer when looking directly forwards. My assumptions about their binocular vision come from observing my doves when they look at something and really focus on it; they don't look at whatever interests them head on, every single time they turn their head to the side to look at it with one eye. Therefore I figured it was either straining to look forwards for a very long time, or they couldn't focus as well. $\endgroup$ – Tardigreat Apr 27 '19 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime A species like this may believe the added visibility of a cockpit-like glass bubble is worth the added risks from crushing in a rollover. Depends on how much they feel their extended field of view impacts their personal function. Perhaps blind spots would be disorienting. This could lead into economic impacts, where they have crush resistant tops, but they are expensive. So our characters in this world may have to deal with this problem. $\endgroup$ – frеdsbend Apr 27 '19 at 18:13

I'm not sure you understand field of view correctly. All animals that move forward can see to the front:

enter image description here

Fish aren't in the image, but their field of view looks like that of any other animal with two eyes. Even insects can see in front of themselves.

Due to the lateral position of their eyes, animals like horses do have a small blind area in front of their head:

enter image description here

But that blind area does not extend far enough forward to hinder those animals in their forward movement. Horses (and cows) could see traffic well enought to drive a car.

It is unlikely that any animal that moves forward could not see forward. That would be such an evolutionary disadvantage, that it simply cannot exist.

A being that has no overlapping vision between its two eyes is unheard of.


As has been pointed out in the comments, there are in fact animals that have two eyes but cannot see to their front, like the sperm whale. But these animals rely on other means of sensing what is in front of them, such as echolocation.

There are also animals that have only one single eye and no binocular vision such as euglenids and a certain species of copepods, all of which are microscopically small and don't drive cars.

There is no animal that navigates primarily by its two eyes and has no binocular vision in the direction of its movement.

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    $\begingroup$ Humans have a small blind spot in front too, where the nose gets in the way. We just ignore it. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 27 '19 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ Whoever drew the bird diagram has apparently not heard of birds of prey. Typical mammalocentrist. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Apr 27 '19 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime I don't think that diagram was meant to be exhaustive. $\endgroup$ – user64555 Apr 27 '19 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ @user10915156 Actually I have heard of a being that allegedly has no overlapping vision between its eyes in front. Physeter macrocephalus, the sperm whale. In Moby Dick there is a chapter where Ishmael thinks about how different it must be for a sperm whale to have two separate and non overlapping fields of vision. Thus it is possible that Melville was correct and sperm whales have a large blind area ahead of them, compensated for by echolocation. $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding Apr 27 '19 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ There is an animal that navigates primarily with eyes but lacks stereoscopic vision. Jumping spiders have exceptionally good eyesight, but their main two eyes are too close together to be of any use for stereoscopic vision. Their second pair is far enough apart but not nearly as sharp. Instead they primarily determine distance by changing the focusing plane of their primary eyes and only resort to using the second pair for navigation when you disable the primary pair, and use the secondary pair as motion detectors only. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Apr 28 '19 at 11:27

A car needs not be entirely glass-roofed. That is, the species in question may add safety features, such as a roof and four A-pillars which hold it.

You may think of BMW Izetta, but not necessarily a small model. Another one is the AMC Pacer. There may be no need for side mirrors, but still rear-view mirrors are essential.


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