Auto

Eyes on the prize

By Rory Daley
Observer writer

Friday, May 03, 2019

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This is the first of a 10-part series in which t he Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine discusses and explains current automotive technology. Today, we look at Subaru's Eyesight Driver Assist Technology.

There are two big trends in the automotive technology space, driving automation and the shift away from the internal combustion engine (ICE) to alternative power sources like electric motors.

Subaru's ultimate aim is driverless technology but, for now, Eyesight Driver Assist Technology is where the manufacturer is beginning the process.

“We need to be completely clear. 'Eyesight' is a Driver Assist package. It doesn't replace driver competence or ability. You still need to be aware and operate the vehicle as you normally would. Its functions are designed to help you drive safer not drive for you,” Damion McKenzie, sales executive, Kingston Industrial Garage (KIG), told The Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

KIG is the local dealers for the Subaru automotive brand.

'Eyesight' was first announced by Subaru in 2008. It eventually made its way to various models two years later and has continued to evolve with the advances in technology.

“Once we were trained on the service and maintenance of Eyesight here at KIG, we were able to bring this exciting technology to the market. Right now, it's available on the top trim levels of our 2019 models of the XV, Forester and Outback,” explained McKenzie.

HOW IT WORKS

Eyesight Driver Assist technology uses a pair of front-facing stereo cameras to continuously monitor the road ahead of obstacles. It not only is able to detect other vehicles, motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians, but it can also calculate their speed and distance as well. From this data, it can perform five primary things, broken into two categories: Driver Assist and Accident Prevention. The Driver Assist functions are Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Sway and Departure Warning and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. For Accident Prevention, there is Pre-Collision Braking and Pre-Collision Throttle Management. These work in tandem with the other Subaru safety features of blind spot monitoring, SRVD in Subaru-speak and Reverse Automatic Braking.

WHAT THEY DO

Pre-Collision Braking first warns the driver if the vehicle senses that a collision is about to happen with another vehicle in front. From there the system can automatically brake for the driver, or increase braking force beyond that applied by the driver. It also triggers Pre-Collision Steering Assist which aids in making sharp turns to avoid impacts. Pre-Collision Throttle Management works during parking, watching for obstacles stationary or otherwise. It can cut engine output to help avoid contact with frontal objects recognised by the camera should the vehicle be put in Drive instead of Reverse. When reversing, the Reverse Automatic Braking comes into play. On the Driver Assist side the camera recognises lane markers and alerts the driver when the vehicle has accidentally left its lane. Some manufacturers have a form of Adaptive Cruise Control usually using radar to calculate and control the driver set speed. Subaru's Eyesight implementation goes a bit further. Once the cruise speed is set, the cameras can follow a lead obstacle at a preset distance while matching that speed all the way from 180km/h to 0km/h. This means the car will come to a complete halt should the vehicle in front do so.

IN THE REAL WORLD

With the Adaptive Cruise Control engaged, the Subaru, unless brought to a complete stop, will accelerate and brake with traffic on its own. If it is brought to a stop it simply takes a flick of a button to reengage the system. It was able to adjust to less than friendly driving by taxis and bikers, sensing when they would cut in front of the vehicle. It does take some familiarity to optimise operation, but Eyesight is easily understood and provides an experience like few others. All the auto functions are easily disengaged by driver input so at no point does the vehicle make the person at the wheel feel like they're not in control. Users are clearly warned ahead visually and audibily about what is taking place.


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