It was a big step when companies like Acura and Mercedes Benz introduced radar-guided safety systems in their cars. Visions of Jetsons-age snoozing in the driver's seat sent early adopters to the dealerships in droves. Now, Automotive News reports, a German company says it's created a system that's more effective and cheaper, using infrared laser tech. The idea is to watch the traffic ahead (or behind for parallel parking), and if something gets too close for comfort, to tell the invasive ECU to apply a car's brakes to prevent a collision. The company, Ibeo, says the same environmental snafus that can mess with a radar's accuracy — rain, snow, swarms of locusts or dust particles — don't effect its spectral system. The system is still in the R&D stage, but Ibeo says it may hit dealerships as early as 2010, and could well become standard equipment after that.