Automated systems designed to help drivers avoid accidents are starting to become available on a wide range of vehicles. In these first generation systems, the assistance is mostly limited to flashing lights and audible/haptic signals. OEMs and suppliers are working hard to develop reliable technology that does not irritate drivers with constant alerts, but that does step in to warn if there is a real danger.

“Demonstrated robustness and reliability are critical before system developers take the next step of assuming some control over vehicle speed or direction,” says ABI Research principal analyst David Alexander. “That stage has been reached with the latest adaptive cruise control systems that apply the brakes. Lane departure warning and blind spot detection sensors and algorithms still need to be proven in actual use.”

Vehicle purchasers still need a lot of convincing of the value of this new technology. Unfortunately, for many people, safety is not as big a draw as convenience or comfort. As the technology develops and includes more features, the value equation will become more favorable. Sensor fusion is already starting to deliver additional benefits, and as advances in software and computing power continue, manufacturers will be able to offer more features for the same or lower prices as the first generation systems. “The bottom line is that drivers want to be helped by advanced technology rather than just nagged about what they might be doing wrong,” says Alexander. “There are positive signs that progress is being made toward this goal, but the market is unlikely to take off until it is reached.”

ABI research’s recent study, “Automotive Obstacle Detection Systems,” offers an analysis of the global market trends, costs and technological evaluations of different approaches and strategies used by safety systems developers, and discusses existing product announcements and design wins. Systems and sensors forecasts for vehicles are provided globally, by region, through 2013. The study forms part of ABI Research’s Emerging Technologies Research Services, which also includes other Research Reports, ABI Insights and analyst inquiry support.