Over the last decade, Subaru has been a follower, not a leader, in automotive technology. But in one swoop the company is giving its cars a set of advanced driver assistance features competitive with those from Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
Subaru's new EyeSight system, which will first be available on the 2013 Legacy and Outback, uses two cameras to monitor what is out in front of the car. These cameras use stereo processing to determine the distance of other cars or objects ahead. They also can recognize lane lines.
These sensors enable a whole raft of driver assistance features. Collision prevention and mitigation can hit the brakes if the cameras detect an imminent collision with a pedestrian, car, or object. Subaru says that at speeds under 19 mph, the system can brake the car quickly enough so as to avoid a collision. At greater speeds the automatic braking will reduce the impact.
When leaving a parking spot, the system can deactivate the throttle if there is an object in the way. Subaru says this feature is useful if a driver accidentally puts the car into Drive instead of Reverse.
As the system can detect lane lines, it will sound a warning if the car begins to make a lane change without the turn signal being activated. This lane departure warning is useful for drowsy drivers who may let the car drift into oncoming traffic.
The cameras can also look far enough ahead to enable adaptive cruise control. Here, the driver can set a cruise control speed, and the car will automatically brake and match the speed of a slower car in the lane ahead. EyeSight can bring the car to a complete stop if the car ahead has stopped.
Another benefit for inattentive drivers is a feature that works in stop-and-go traffic. When the car ahead begins to move, the system sounds an alert if the Subaru's driver does not get moving.
Subaru has not released pricing for this option yet, but says the system is cheaper than radar-based adaptive cruise control systems.