Think of it as the “democratization of technology.” Hi-tech systems routinely make their debut on luxury models and, if they prove popular, usually migrate down-market – often with mainstream manufacturers coming up with more inexpensive, but equally effective, alternatives.
So it goes with EyeSight, a camera based system that Subaru will be bringing to the States later this year. The system uses a pair of cameras mounted on either side of the rearview mirror to look out on the road ahead. It’s a lower-cost alternative, the maker claims, than the radar-based safety systems currently in use by luxury makers such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
EyeSight’s stereoscopic cameras can spot obstacles – such as a pedestrian – and bring the vehicle to a complete stop from speeds up to 19 mph. That’s similar to the CitySafety system first introduced by Volvo a few years back.
At speeds over 19 mph, the Subaru version of Pre-Collision Braking can still slow the vehicle down – often times giving the driver enough time to avoid an accident and otherwise reducing injuries and damage.
The EyeSight system adds Lane Departure warning, alerting a distracted or drowsy motorist who might inadvertently drift out of their lane without signaling.
And the new Subaru system also offers adaptive cruise control, which can adjust a vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the traffic ahead at speeds of up to 87 mph.
Subaru claims EyeSight unblinkingly watches a broader swatch of the road ahead than current radar-based systems.
There are several down sides to vision-based technologies, however. They need a clean windshield, which means they may not operate properly if the glass is iced up on a cold winter morning. And they are sensitive to fog, which can reduce their effectiveness, as well.
How much cheaper the EyeSight system will be remains to be seen, but expect to find out next month, Subaru promising to reveal all during the 2012 New York Auto Show. The first cars to get the new technology will be the 2013 Legacy and Outback, though Subaru hints EyeSight will control the trickling down of technology to its lower-priced models in the future.