Not so long ago, things like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pedestrian detection were high-tech numbers limited to the top tier of the market--mainly expensive luxury sedans. That's changed quickly in recent years, with Subaru among the up-and-comers with its EyeSight system. The brand will launch a new, more capable version at the 2012 New York Auto Show.

Using stereo cameras to provide depth perception to the car's computer, it can see obstacles, road details, and even people, and tell what they are through software analysis.

With this information available, the Subaru's cars--the 2013 Legacy and Outback at first, but soon, other models--Subaru can control the car's speed relative to other traffic (adaptive cruise control), monitor lane position, and, under 19 mph, see pedestrians in the car's path and use the brakes to mitigate or avoid the collision. The EyeSight system can even bring the car to a full stop under some circumstances.

EyeSight can even help keep slow traffic moving by alerting the driver that the car in front has taken off again.

While we're still not 100-percent sold on the increasing reliance on systems like these, we can see the value in having them as backups to our own fallible senses. We hope to have a chance to evaluate the new EyeSight system sometime later this year when it reaches production. If we do test it, we'll bring you a full report.