A company in the Netherlands has developed a new camera-based monitoring system that can drastically improve road safety for drivers at a relatively low cost. Mobileye Vision Technologies has created a small camera that mounts behind a car’s rear-view-mirror, and looks out to the road ahead. From this vantage point it is able to process and analyze images it takes and determine whether there are any potential hazards approaching the vehicle.

Known as the Mobileye Advance Warning System (AWS), the system consists of a small camera and a computer chip that has been programmed to recognize vehicles, pedestrians and other hazards. The system gives the driver an auditory warning and helps them to maintain safe distances from any of these potential hazards. It is also smart enough to ignore vehicles in adjacent lanes, and can warn the driver of an imminent collision up to three seconds before it occurs.

The set-up also features a lane departure warning system, as well as a feature that measures how far away other cars are and represents their proximity on a display screen located on the dash. More features are under development, including a pedestrian identification system and a lane change assist feature.

Unlike existing OEM systems that are just starting to make their way onto the market, the Mobileye set-up does not require an expensive radar unit, and can work at night and in adverse weather conditions. Due to the low cost of its components, the final outlay to customers is expected to fall somewhere around the $1,000 mark.

Opel recently revealed its own camera-based safety system for its new Insignia saloon and Nissan is currently testing a system that uses cameras to detect potential slip-hazards. As for the Mobileye, its developer has recently signed a contract with General Motors and parts supplier Delphi to eventually offer the system on GM products.