Auto Tech

Suppliers ready collision-avoidance systems for mass-market vehicles

Collision-avoidance systems that combine radar and a camera soon may be ready for mass-market vehicles.

DETROIT--Collision-avoidance systems that combine radar and a camera soon may be ready for mass-market vehicles.

Samir Salman, CEO of Continental's North American operations, says a fairly sophisticated system could be deployed on compact cars for $200 to $250.

"We are thinking of combining cameras with radar," Salman said. "I think that's the next thing which is going to come to the market."

A midrange radar system that could spot objects up to 450 feet away would be a good product for U.S. roads, where speeds are generally limited to 75 mph or so, Salman said.

A midrange radar system would cost automakers $100 to $120 per unit. A camera with a multifunction computer chip would add $100 or so. As volumes rise, the cost of the equipment would decline.

Salman says a system that costs automakers $250 or so would be acceptably priced for compact cars such as the Ford Focus.

"We don't sell safety for privileged people," Salman said. "We believe safety has to be affordable for all."

A number of luxury cars have adaptive cruise control systems that can apply the brakes to mitigate a crash. Most of these systems use radar, although some use less costly laser sensors. Mercedes-Benz, for example, launched its Distronic adaptive cruise control in 1998 and added a brake assist function in 2005. The system relies on a radar device positioned in the grille.

Continental's collision avoidance system, dubbed ContiGuard, is designed to be offered with various levels of sophistication, Salman said. To hold down costs, an automaker might adopt just two or three of the safety functions on the menu, with an option to add more later.

A global automaker will introduce a vehicle equipped with Continental's midrange collision avoidance radar in two or three years, Salman said. He declined to identify the automaker.

Other suppliers also are developing radar systems cheap enough for mass-market vehicles. For example, TRW Automotive has developed a midrange radar dubbed ACC 100, which will debut in the 2013 model year, says Andy Whydell, senior manager of product planning for TRW Global Electronics.

Whydell says TRW is aiming for a system that would cost about $500 in the showroom, while automakers would pay about half that much.

(Source: Automotive News)