TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Omron Automotive Electronics Inc. has developed a system to improve highway safety by helping drivers stay within their lanes.

Unlike other lane-changing systems entering the market, drivers are alerted whenever the vehicle crosses painted lines on either side of the road by a slight tugging on the steering wheel. The system then smoothly guides the vehicle back on the correct course, within the lane markers.

Other systems alert drivers by vibrating the steering wheel, with a visual warning on the instrument panel or by simply providing lane-detection information, says Jerry Bricker, president of the U.S. subsidiary of Japan-based Omron Electronics.

“We want our system to help drivers stay in their lanes but without being too intrusive or creating a distraction,” Bricker says.

He demonstrates how the system works following an interview with Ward’s during the Management Briefing Seminars.

Omron installed the system, which consists of a sensor and front-mounted camera, in an ’07 Mercedes C320 sedan. The test drive was conducted on the 2-lane U.S. 31, between here and Elk Rapids, MI, and the system performed seamlessly.

General Motors Corp. is expected to install a lane-departure warning system on the Cadillac STS during the ’08 or ’09 model years, sources say.

Bricker doesn’t say if Omron already has a customer for the system, which he says is only the starting point for myriad additional electronic solutions to on-board safety systems under development at Omron.