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Avoiding collisions -- the new frontier in vehicle safety -- has arrived

David Sedgwick is a Senior Writer for Automotive News

If you want to know how collision-avoidance technology will develop, study the new Mercedes GL.

The crossover, unveiled last week at the New York auto show, is a rolling advertisement for collision avoidance. Among its many features:

  • Radar-based Collision Prevention Assist, which works at speeds of 20 to 155 mph. The feature, often called active cruise control, monitors distances to vehicles ahead and applies the brakes to avoid collisions.
  • A surround-view camera, which uses data from four cameras in the front and rear to create a bird's-eye view of the vehicle's surroundings on the center-stack screen. Surround view helps drivers prevent low-speed accidents in city driving.
  • Crosswind stabilization, which applies brakes to stabilize the vehicle in the event of strong crosswinds.
  • Active parking assist, which maneuvers the vehicle out of a parallel parking spot.

One thing about collision avoidance is clear: It's a field dominated by the big boys -- major global suppliers with well-funded research labs, such as Bosch, Continental AG, Denso, TRW, Autoliv and a few others. Small fry need not apply.

I don't know who will prevail, but I will make one prediction: This technology will quickly find its way into the mass market. That's where the real profits are.

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