The GMC system employs a camera for both collision warning and lane departure functions, relying on software to detect vehicles. Successive video frames are analyzed to determine the trajectory and time to collision unless corrections are made. The brakes are also pre-primed to deliver optimal performance if called upon. Image processing is the key to this system's strength, relying on software number-crunching to pull off what other manufacturers bulk up on hardware to do. For example, at night, the system looks for pairs of lights moving together to help spot other vehicles, and vehicle speed, accelerator and brake application are factored in to help the system figure out what the driver's intent is.
Families want vehicles that do more than just pay lip service to safety, and GMC apparently believes that it shouldn't just be wealthy families that get the best stuff. Video and press release posted after the jump.
Terrain's new active safety system uses a high-resolution digital camera mounted on the windshield ahead of the rearview mirror that looks for shapes of vehicles and lane markings. The system uses audible warnings and a high-mounted visual display to warn the driver if he or she is following another vehicle too closely, when a collision is imminent, or when departing a lane without signaling first.
According to National Automotive Sampling System estimates, rear-end crashes account for approximately 28 percent of the nearly 6 million police-reported incidents that occur annually. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains that the majority of rear-end collisions involve driver inattention, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says forward collision warning systems have the potential to help prevent such crashes.
"Digital image sensors are used in just about everything from cameras to mobile phones to computers and this is making them a more-affordable alternative for use in vehicles," said Raymond Kiefer, General Motors Technical Fellow for crash avoidance systems. "By combining a digital camera with state-of-the-art image processing algorithms, we're able to estimate when a crash may be imminent."
Terrain's warning display contains green "vehicle ahead" and "lanes detected" icons, as well as flashing red "forward collision alert" and amber "lane departure warning" icons that are accompanied by warning chimes. Forward collision alert operates at speeds above 25 mph and warns a driver if they are following too closely or in imminent danger of a front-end crash. When a collision is predicted to be imminent, vehicle brakes are pre-charged to help drivers quickly reach maximum braking.
The forward collision warning software examines each frame captured by the camera – about 14 frames per second – searching for shapes characteristic of vehicles. Detected vehicles are then checked over successive frames for changes in size for calculating time-to-collision. The system also uses speed, directional change, and how the accelerator and brake pedal have been applied to determine when to alert the driver.
In order to operate in varying visibility conditions, the system combines four separate exposures to create each high-resolution image for analysis. This is particularly useful at night when short exposures are needed to get clear images of light sources while long exposures are needed to detect shapes and textures. Night time target recognition is also enhanced by looking for pairs of lights moving together that indicate taillights. The system operates as long as the camera eye is unobstructed, such as by snow or mud.
In addition to searching for other vehicles, the image processor also looks for lane markings to provide lane departure alerts. Available at speeds above 35 mph, the lane departure warning icon shines green when lane markings are detected to indicate the system is active. If the vehicle drifts out of the lane without a turn signal, the lamp switches to flashing amber and is augmented by warning beeps.
The GM camera-based forward collision alert system is listed at the Safercar.gov website as a result of passing three track tests required by the NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program.
"GM is committed to providing protection before, during and after a crash, but the best scenario is to avoid a collision in the first place, and this technology is designed to assist drivers for that purpose," said Gay Kent, GM executive director of Vehicle Safety and Crashworthiness.
This dual-benefit crash avoidance system is available for $295.
GMC has manufactured trucks since 1902, and is one of the industry's healthiest brands. Innovation and engineering excellence is built into all GMC vehicles and the brand is evolving to offer more fuel-efficient trucks and crossovers, including the Terrain smaller SUV and Acadia crossover. GMC is the only manufacturer to offer three full-size hybrid trucks with the Yukon, Yukon Denali SUVs and the Sierra pickup. The new Sierra Heavy Duty pickups are the most capable and powerful trucks in the market. Details on all GMC models are available at www.gmc.com, on Twitter at @thisisgmc or at http://www.facebook.com/gmc.