EyeSight never looks away from road
SAFETY ranks right up there with styling, reliability and value when shopping for a new vehicle. The safety systems on the newest vehicles are truly amazing. Hopefully you will never need them, but if and when you do, they are well worth it.
One of the vehicles on the market that has been showcasing its safety features is the 2015 Subaru Legacy. The Legacy was named this year as the Best New Car of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and vehicle safety is part of the judging criteria.
EyeSight is the Subaru name for one of their safety systems, and I call it a system because it does much more than just one thing. Think of EyeSight as a second pair of eyes watching the road for you, with its own brain that can detect and react to unsafe situations, even faster than you could yourself.
EyeSight is camera-based driverassist technology that integrates features previously usually only found on luxury cars in a premium price range. Using camera-recognition technology, the EyeSight system can provide adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management and lane-departure warning without having to add sonar or radar systems to the camera technology
Two small stereoscopic cameras mounted inside the windshield on either side of the rear-view mirror monitor the road. Even if you take your eyes off the road, EyeSight never does. The cameras’ view is cleaned every time the windshield is washed. Subaru has even installed an extra washer nozzle just to clean the camera area. The cameras have a 30 degree field of view and can “look” down the road up to 87 metres. Of course, snow, fog or any other visibility-reducing driving conditions will affect the system’s operation, but the driver wouldn’t be able to see then either, so the vehicle shouldn’t be driven.
On many vehicles, adaptive cruise control often uses forward-looking radar to detect vehicles ahead and slow your vehicle to a pace matching them. EyeSight works in a similar fashion but uses camera technology. By comparing the image size of vehicles ahead, the EyeSight computer can detect if the vehicles are maintaining speed or slowing down. The driver can adjust the system settings for three different following distances to the vehicle ahead. If they are slowing, EyeSight can control throttle and braking to bring the Subaru to a matching speed. This even works all the way to a stop. EyeSight adaptive cruise will bring the car to a stop if the vehicle ahead stops. This isn’t recommended for your morning commute, however, since drivers should be paying attention and controlling the car. Let EyeSight work for those unexpected situations.
Along with adaptive cruise control, EyeSight also provides pre-collision braking, constantly watching and gauging the distance to the cars ahead. If a vehicle ahead rapidly slows down, EyeSight will sound an alert and flash a warning on the instrument cluster. If you don’t hit the brakes, EyeSight will do it for you automatically. If the vehicle speed is less than 30 km/h, EyeSight will likely be able to prevent a collision, but if speeds are higher, the system still works to minimize the impact and collision damage.
If the driver does step on the brake pedal, EyeSight still monitors the distance and will apply additional braking force if necessary. Interestingly, the system stops automatically braking after three near-misses in a row. The car must be turned off and restarted for the automatic braking to work again, although warnings continue. Subaru tells us this is a warning for extremely terrible drivers to wake up.
A third feature of EyeSight is precollision throttle management. EyeSight attempts to avoid inadvertently accelerating into an object or vehicle ahead. Imagine a line of vehicles making a right turn into traffic and the vehicle ahead of you suddenly stops instead of merging while you are performing a shoulder check. EyeSight will detect the vehicle ahead, cut the throttle and sound a warning so the driver has time to react and brake to avoid a collision.
The last part of the EyeSight system is lane-departure warning. EyeSight monitors the lane markings and will sound a warning when the vehicle drifts too close to another lane. EyeSight will also sound a warning if the vehicle sways back and forth within its own lane.
Camera-recognition features are becoming more common on vehicles and they can add greatly to vehicle safety. Check them out on your next test drive.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy was named the Canadian Car of the Year for 2015 at this year’s Canadian International Auto Show.