Posted Oct 11th 2012 3:30PM
We live in a world where high-tech wizardry is truly taking over our cars. For the longest time, the automobile industry was ongoing refinement of the same chassis, motor and iron block approach. But the last 15 years or so has seen some monumental changes that will alter how we drive forever. Typically reserved for higher end cars, much of the next level tech is now filtering down to affordable everyday cars and one of the best examples today is Subaru's new EyeSight system. A sophisticated system that provides uninterrupted vision to help to avoid accidents or at least minimize the impact.
We stopped by Subaru Canada for a hands-on experience of the technology which debuted at the New York Auto Show in April. While it sounds revolutionary on paper we wanted to see what all the buzz was about surrounding this automated safety system. The EyeSight system was fitted to two updated vehicles in the lineup the 2013 Subaru Legacy and the 2013 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited. The system will continue to be offered on other Subaru models in the future.
We wondered how effectively this system was be able to aids the drive prevent an accident and was it too obtrusive for the everyday commute with chimes, lights and phantom controls.
Hit the jump for details on this innovative safety system.
Related GallerySubaru EyeSight Demo
The EyeSight system is based on a dual CCD (Charge Couple Device) camera system mounted in the overhead console flanking the rearview mirror. The cameras were larger than what we expected considering today's micro video technology but they have a wide range of vision and solid depth perception by having a dual setup. The overhead positioning of the the EyeSight cameras reduces the possibility of damage with bumper mounted systems such as radar. The driver assist circuitry controls braking and throttle to enable: pre-collision braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure and sway warning. On the highway, the EyeSight brain is the epicentre of the Adaptive cruise control system, which maintains a user-selected car lengths between other vechicles.
First up was the a test of the pre-collision braking system. We've experienced this on Infiniti products before and really enjoyed using it in busy stop and go traffic. On those long monotonous commutes, you can be distracted by something catching your eye and wham, the car in front of you could brake late or not have working taillights causing an accident. In this test, we were to bring the car up to 60 km/h and head for a solid barrier and let the driver assist take over.
It was a tad unnerving to keep your foot off the brake and let the Subaru take over but we followed our instructions. We held the constant speed and the barrier fast approached, sure enough within a safe stopping distance the brakes kicked in and we stopped a full car length short of an accident. The aim of the system is to avoid a collision or mitigate the damage cause by attemptiong to stop if the driver doesn't activate the brakes. If the driver does activate the brakes, the system backs off in order for the driver to take over evasive actions.
While stopped, we tested the ability for the system to prevent a rear-ender by pressing the accelerator in front of the barrier. And as promised, the car went nowhere. For those on long commutes in big Canadian cities, you want this - trust us. As well, we were told this would work if there were pedestrians crossing in front and the driver attempted to accelerate into them by accident.
Under 30 km/h the EyeSight system identifies pedestrians and cyclists. The stereo cameras pick out pedestrian silhouttes and activate the braking making it ideal for those traveling in major urban areas. Although we didn't test this technology (no one was brave enough to play the role of pedestrian) we're sure that driver's would find it far more relaxing navigating the pedetrian-filled streets of Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver... because they come from all angles!
The EyeSight system can also be overridden temporarily if there are unforseen conditions. Rough roads, snow banks or various obstacles might confuse the recognition tecnology. Again, during our test we didn't find the need to override it and the system performed as expected. It should also be mentioned that the system requires 10-seconds to become fully operational upon start-up.
We then ventured out on to a nice clear highway near Subaru Canada. We were going to activate the Adaptive Cruise control to see how the system dealt with different types of vehicles at different speeds. Once cruise is activated, the driver can pre-determine how close they want to follow the vehicle in front of them, or maintain a distance even if no vehicle is currently in front. We slid in behind a truck and activated the cruise, the truck would slow down uphill or around curves and accelerate downhill and as expected the EyeSight system modulated the throttle to maintain the distance between the speeds of 40-145 km/h.
Lastly, we purposely started swaying in and out of lanes to see how EyeSight dealt with distracted driving. The system offered an audible warning and a light to let the driver know they are moving outside the lines without a signal on. If the signal is on, the system is overridden and stops alerting the driver.
The EyeSight system also offers a couple collateral benefits we didn't expect. When in traffic, the system will alert you when the vehicle ahead of you has strated to move. We know that is something half of the drivers around these parts could use while illegally texting away at the stop lights! Additionally, every once in a while, you might have the car in the wrong gear getting out of a parking spot or backing up at an intersection but the EyeSight system will detect cars, walls, pedestrians, cyclists etc. and not allow the car to move.
The EyeSight system will set buyers back a modest $1,500 above than the range-topping models. The MSRP for the EyeSight-equipped 2013 Subaru Legacy is $36,195, while the Outback 3.6R Limited with EyeSight is $39,995.
In conclusion, we were impressed with the EyeSight system. It may not be leading edge since luxury manufactures have it already but it offers new technology at an affordable price. There isn't another car at the price point of the Legacy or Outback that will offer advanced technology like this. And it should go without saying, the EyeSight system is meant to eliminate a driver's need to pay attention to the road and driving conditions but it just might save your life when you least expect it.
Image Credit: Copyright 2012 Dave Pankew / AOL