A Peak At Subaru's New Self-Driving SUV - They Are Now Closer Than You Think
When will Subaru Corporation offer a vehicle with self-driving (autonomous) technology? It will be coming sooner than anyone thinks. They recently finished another round of testing in a new Subaru Crosstrek, equipped with LiDAR technology from InnovizOne.
Subaru has been ordering InnovizOne LiDAR (the tech used in the BMW 7 Series this year) since 2020 to test and develop an advanced version of its EyeSight driver assist technology. The EyeSight system is now used in five million vehicles worldwide sold to consumers.
Subaru's next-generation EyeSight safety technology, which is in the new 2024 Subaru Outback coming this fall, uses a new Wide-angle Mono Camera. In addition, the midsize SUV uses the vision-based ADAS system (Advanced Driver Assistance System) using four stereo cameras on all four corners of the vehicle to see the road ahead. But Subaru wants to improve the system.
InnovizOne LiDAR, incorporated in the Subaru Crosstrek automated test vehicle, adds another level of sensor redundancy needed for safety and confidence in higher levels of automated driving. It uses eight cameras.
photo credit: Hajime Aida
During the HARMONIA DRIVE event (September 29th to October 1st, 2022) held in the Odaiba area of Tokyo, the Crosstrek was equipped with eight cameras. In addition, the test vehicle used an InnovizOne LiDAR and completed real-world safety demonstrations at the SIP Automated Driving Demonstration Project exhibition and test drive event in Tokyo. Subaru also presented simulation test results at the event.
The Crosstrek automated test vehicle is outfitted with additional cameras and an InnovizOne LiDAR sensor integrated into the roofline. While the multi-camera system captures the vehicle's surroundings, including traffic signal color recognition, InnovizOne adds critical sensor redundancy to ensure driver and pedestrian safety and confidence in higher levels of automated driving.
photo credit: Hajime Aida
InnovizOne LiDAR complements Subaru's camera-based EyeSight system by detecting all obstacles in low-light and adverse weather conditions, such as rain and fog.
Innoviz CEO Omer Keilaf said, "While Subaru's advanced driver assist system has been camera-heavy to date, it's great to see that they've been continuously exploring how LiDAR can advance the performance of the EyeSight system. LiDAR is a critical technology for redundancy in automated driving systems. It can be relied upon to perform when cameras fail, including identifying pedestrians in low-light conditions. In collaboration with our valued distribution partner NEXTY Electronics, we're excited to provide Subaru with our automotive-grade LiDAR sensor as they continue building their EyeSight system."
The current EyeSight system uses a wide-angle camera to detect pedestrians and bicycles when turning at intersections. But the target is mainly in the front of the vehicle.
The new LiDAR system can distinguish the color of traffic lights, which is essential for autonomous driving. In addition, by installing eight cameras, the Crosstrek will be able to capture an all-around view of the vehicle.
Will the driver maintain control of the vehicle?
Yu Hasegawa of the Subaru Technical Research Institute said, "When it becomes a situation where EyeSight cannot be captured, driving is returned to the driver. For Subaru, sensing is still based on the camera."
Koichi Abe, involved in ADAS development at the Subaru Technical Headquarters, said, "From the results of this demonstration experiment, Subaru was able to perform sufficient sensing without relying on LiDAR with cameras." Therefore, it is an extension of EyeSight. From this experimental vehicle, I felt like I had a glimpse of such a future image of EyeSight."
Subaru's current EyeSight technology used in the 2023 Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other new all-wheel-drive vehicles has already received the tougher-to-earn IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick awards.
Using LiDAR, the Subaru vehicles with this new technology will increase passenger, pedestrian, and bicycle safety. As Subaru continues its testing, LiDAR could become the safety standard for ADAS in 2025 Subaru vehicles and beyond. Stay tuned.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Photo credit: Hajime Aida