When we look at past Subaru models we’d rarely use the word ‘revolutionary’. Bigger names such as Mercedes and BMW tend to lead the way where innovation is concerned and a little while later manufacturers like Subaru put their foot on the accelerator and catch up.
Their latest gadget though seems set to change our opinion of the Japanese manufacturers and place them firmly up there with the big boys, as Subaru reveal a wealth of very clever driver assistance features that we can expect to see in the not so distant future.
EyeSight, as the technology is called, will first be present on the 2013 models of the Outback and the Legacy, and features two cameras which attach to the rear view mirror to monitor what’s in front of the car. Through clever use of stereo processing the system determines the distance of nearby objects and even the whereabouts of lane lines around the car’s wheels.
These are some pretty clever sensors, and they open up a plethora of features to make life easier behind the wheel. For one thing, if the cameras detect a potential collision the car can take over and put the brakes on, and at speeds of under 19mph manufacturers say the system will stop the car quickly enough to completely avoid accidents – anything faster will be seriously mitigated.
Alerting drowsy drivers
What’s more, if the cameras detect you straying over a lane line without indicating they can alert the driver who may be drowsy or not paying attention – sounds like it could have some uses at roundabouts as well as roads.
Cruise control also makes a clever return. Because the cameras can look so far ahead they make adaptive cruise control a breeze, allowing the driver to set a speed and let the car brake to adapt to the speed of the vehicle in front – it can even bring the vehicle to a standstill if the car ahead stops. If you’re stuck in traffic you’ll also receive an alert if you don’t get moving when other cars do.
The smart anti collision tools also find use in car parks and other narrow areas. If the sensors pick up an object in the way which the driver hasn’t noticed they can cut the throttle completely to avoid scrapes and bumps – handy if you accidently put the car into Drive instead of Reverse.
How much will the system cost?
As of yet, this is a bit of a grey area, but Subaru assure us that it will be cheaper than other similar driver assistance tools. There’s no other word as of yet, but fortunately we won’t have to wait too long to find out.
There’s certainly an argument that with the driver feeling so safe and invulnerable, the system will go from being driver assistance to replacing our natural senses. If we’re going to be told of any potential collisions then we might find ourselves less inclined to be attentive and more prone to trusting ourselves to the technology – and no matter how smart it is it should never be a replacement for our own caution.
Rob writes about technology for spectacles provider Direct Sight.