Called Eyesight, the idiot-proof high-tech safety system is currently being tested by Subaru Australia. It is expected to be rolled out locally next year on high-end Liberty/Outback models.
The Subaru device is similar to Volvo's City Safety in its ability to recognise potential road hazards and alert the driver. However, unlike Volvo's system, Subaru uses two cameras located near the rear view mirror rather than a laser.
"The reason it's called Eyesight is because the stereo cameras replicate human eyesight," according to Subaru Australia technical services manager, Derek Ashby. Its inventors say the cameras are better able to recognise the complex road environment, from white lines, to barriers, people and bicycles.
Eyesight can avoid frontal collisions, lane drifting and low-speed impacts. It is currently available in Liberty, Outback and Exiga models in Japan for about $1200. Like humans, the system requires clear weather to work properly.
In rain or bright direct sunlight its performance is diminished. "It needs clear vision just as people do," Ashby says.
Subaru has been testing a third-generation version here for the past nine months to program more local driving conditions into it. They have towed a caravan with it and driven the Outback test car extensively on dirt roads.
Eyesight's two digital cameras feed information into a micro-processor above the windscreen. It locks on to any vehicle in front and when used with the adaptive cruise control, will slow, stop or accelerate the car.
Like City Safety, it will also apply the brakes in stop-start traffic to prevent crashing into the back of other vehicles. Other party tricks include lane departure warning and sway warning. It will also stop a driver from accidentally driving into a carpark wall if they accident hit the accelerator instead of the brake, even if a forward gear is engaged.
The system will also beep at inattentive drivers to let them know the vehicle in front has moved away from traffic lights or an intersection. A pre-crash function will brake the car to a complete stop below 30km/h to avoid low-speed collisions.
Subaru also says it will also work at speeds above 30km/h and up to 50km/h with minimal damage. Eyesight has been developed in conjunction with Hitachi.