Valeo has signed a co-operative agreement with Iteris to exclusively manufacture and market camera-based lane departure warning systems for light vehicles worldwide. This follows a two-year joint development of the system. If the system enters volume production in 2004 in North America as anticipated it will be a world first.

Under the terms of the agreement, Valeo will take full responsibility for the manufacture and marketing of lane departure warning systems for the light vehicle market worldwide, including the aftermarket.

A typical lane departure warning system developed with Iteris consists of a miniature windscreen-mounted video sensor that uses proprietary software algorithms to continuously monitor the lane markings in front of the car. During unintentional lane departures, the system informs the driver allowing corrective actions to be taken. Specific system behaviour can be tailored to the requirements of each customer.

The compact packaging of the system means that it can be discreetly located behind the centre rear-view mirror. The system detects an unintentional lane departure when the driver fails to activate the direction indicators. The lane departure warning system is therefore also expected to promote correct use of the car's indicator system.

"Valeo will benefit from Iteris' proven volume production experience for lane departure warning systems manufactured since 2000 for thousands of trucks and nearly four million kilometres on North American and European highways," said Iteris CEO Jack Johnson.

The market for automotive systems that monitor the vehicle's surrounding environment and provide information to help control the vehicle, both laterally and longitudinally, is expected to reach €800 million by 2010. This includes advanced parking systems as well as blind spot detection and other radar-based systems which Valeo is developing in its joint venture with Raytheon.

Iteris' vision technology is now an integral part of Valeo's 'seeing and being seen' domain that already deploys ultrasonic, infrared and radar sensing technologies toward the goal of achieving a complete 360 degree surveillance of a vehicle's immediate environment.

It is envisaged that future evolutions of lane departure warning systems will be able to detect changes in weather and road conditions, and even recognise obstacles and road signs. The lane departure warning system will be a prerequisite for future driver support features such as collision warning and avoidance systems.

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