Increase Seen For Blind-Spot Detection Systems

By Danny King March 21, 2011

Blind Sport Detection Diagram.jpg

The amount of money drivers will spend on blind-spot detection systems that help prevent accident-causing lane changes will surge by more than a factor of 20 over the next five years, as companies like Ford Motor Co. start including such systems on more moderately priced cars. Blind-spot detection systems (BSD), which do things like trigger an audible warning and take limited steering control when a driver is about to swerve into another car, will generate more than $12 billion in revenue and will be included in 20 million vehicles, or 25 percent of the world’s total, in 2016, ABI Research said in a report released last week. Those numbers are up from $570 million and about 1 percent this year.

Meanwhile, the cost of a typical system, which averages about $550 in North America, will steadily decline over the next few years, according to Larry Fisher, research director at ABI. Such systems have been around since 2005, but were included exclusively in higher end vehicles largely because there has been little support for legally mandating that cars be fitted with BSD devices, Fisher said. “Legislation regarding BSD was introduced for commercial vehicles in Europe in 2009, but was worded in such a way that no specific technology was identified as mandatory,” said Fisher, adding that most automakers complied by using additional mirrors instead of installing so-called machine vision systems.

Still, technological improvements are making it cost effective for automakers to include BSD systems in an expanding range of cars and pitch the vehicles for safety features that can prevent faulty lane changes, which account for about 10 percent of all traffic accidents. Cars such as the 2012 Ford Focus and Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level C-Class will include such features starting this year.

In fact, BSD systems are going far beyond merely beeping when a driver is about to move into an occupied lane. Some systems will cause the steering wheel or car seat to vibrate when the car gets too close to another, while other systems include sensors that warn of cross traffic when a driver is backing out of a parking spot as well as cameras that can pick off approaching adjacent-lane vehicles when they get within about 165 feet.

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