Subaru will debut EyeSight safety system on 2013 models

Subaru Legacy rearAll-encompassing electronic safety blankets are usually Volvo’s thing, but Subaru has put together a system that combines several features into one package. This new system, called EyeSight, will debut at the New York International Auto Show in April.

EyeSight consists of three subsystems: Pre-Collision Braking Control and Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, and Adaptive Cruise Control. All of these technologies have already been deployed on more expensive cars from Mercedes, Jaguar, Volvo, and others.

Pre-Collision Braking Control and Collision Mitigation (one feature, many names) detects obstacles ahead of the vehicle and can pre-charge the brakes, or apply them if a collision seems imminent. The system works at speeds under 19 mph, where it can bring a car to a complete stop. Above 19 mph, the system will still apply the brakes if an obstacle is detected and the driver takes no evasive action, but it can’t stop a car from those speeds. This is similar in concept to Mercedes’ PRE-SAFE and Volvo’s City Safety.Subaru EyeSight

Lane Departure and Sway Warning monitors the road and warns drivers when they are straying out of their lanes. The Adaptive Cruise Control locks onto the car in front at speeds up to 87 mph and maintains a set following distance. The technology is new to Subaru but has been used in other cars, such as the Jaguar XJ.

EyeSight’s eyes are two stereo cameras mounted in the center upper-edge of the windshield, right above the rearview mirror. Subaru chose this setup because it thought a front bumper-mounted unit would be too easily damaged; Volvo took a similar approach with its City Safety sensors. The cameras can identify obstacles in front of the vehicle, as well as lane markers on either side.

The system can also override the driver. According to Subaru, EyeSight will cut the throttle if it detects an obstacle and the driver continues to push the gas pedal. This may be the first car that is its own backseat driver. Subaru says this could prevent a hapless driver from doing any damage if they accidentally shift into Drive while backing out of a parking spot. If this stirs up fears of future robot overlords, fear not; like HAL 9000, EyeSight can be turned off.

EyeSight packs an impressive number of safety features, but its biggest selling point may be that it is being offered in Subarus instead of Mercedes-Benzs and Volvos. Subaru says the system will be affordable, definitely less than the $2,100 Volvo charges for City Safety. EyeSight will be available on the 2013 Legacy sedan and Outback wagon, which start at $20,000-$24,000.