20:20 vision makes Subaru safety first
AS anyone who regularly reads these pages or has leaved through a manufacturer's brochure recently will know, new cars are being loaded with an increasing amount of kit to improve the safety or drivers, passengers and pedestrians, writes William Scholes.
Automatic braking systems that slam on the brakes when the car reckons the driver is going to hit the car in front unless it acts first and technology that detects pedestrians and even cyclists are among the gadgetry that is now commonplace.
Most of these systems rely on radar or microwave but Subaru, the idiosyncratic Japanese maker of all-wheel-drive vehicles, has, typically, gone another way.
It uses a camera-based optical system, which it calls EyeSight. Two forward-facing cameras, mounted to the left and right of the rear-view mirror at the top of the windscreen, create what engineers call a stereoscopic image.
The Subaru system has proved itself more capable of reliably working out what's happening on the road - identifying pedestrians in dark clothing on unlit roadsides, for example - in both day and night driving.
ADAC, the highly regarded German Automobile Club, tested a range of safety assistance systems and found EyeSight to be the only one that achieved full points in all three categories it tested - pedestrian detection, cyclist detection and night driving assistance.
Further vindication for Subaru's approach has come from the American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; an EyeSight-equipped Outback scored maximum points in its prevention of front collision test.
In Northern Ireland, the EyeSight system is available on Subaru Outback Lineartronic models and will be found on the Levorg from next year.