Guest blog: Sensors present huge opportunity

Walter Rothmund

In a guest blog, Walter Rothmund from Osram Opto Semiconductors looks at how more reliable sensor technology will increase the speed to market for semi-autonomous vehicles, and provide a more comfortable and safe journey for drivers

Today’s automotive market is a showcase of some of the most important next generation technologies, as vehicle manufacturers are among the first to adopt the latest technology developments, including the use of visible and invisible light for state-of-the-art sensor technology, to create the ultimate driving and passenger experience. Therefore the work from leading companies in this field plays an important role to realise real-life applications for sensors in safety, security and comfort.

When it comes to optoelectronics technologies in today’s cars and future vehicles, a lot of the attention has been on lidar (light detection and ranging) laser technology. However, it is in fact developments in many fields based on the use of photodetectors and IREDs (infra-red emitting diode) as a basis for sensors that are making headway in bringing a multitude of advancements closer to market. The wide range of applications for sensors in car interiors and exteriors includes everything from reducing the risk to the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians, to delivering the ultimate vehicle driving experience in luxurious comfort.

Camera based sensors making use of infra-red light technology are making headway in interior systems. Driver monitoring is an increasingly critical component for today’s safety features as well as for future semi-autonomous cars. IREDs are used to illuminate a driver’s face with invisible infra-red light. To detect whether the driver is fatigued or distracted, a cmos camera monitors the face, especially the eyes, to detect the status of attention and the gaze direction of the driver. A warning is activated in case of drowsiness to alert the driver, or recommend taking a break.

In semi-autonomous cars, the vehicle must be able to hand back control to the driver in case of a critical situation at any time, which makes driver monitoring mandatory.

Another example for a safety feature is realised via occupancy detection, using invisible infra-red light and a cmos camera, which monitors the passenger seats. Occupants are recognised and their size and position are determined to ensure appropriate deployment of the airbag in case of an accident, which can save lives.

It is, however, not only inside the car where light technologies are improving visibility, vehicle and traffic safety, an overall smoother journey, and iconic styling recognition. Cameras used on cars to detect the environment around the vehicle for night vision assistance are benefiting from increasing efficiency of the latest high power infra-red LEDs. This gives, for example, headlamp designers far more flexibility and freedom.

High power infra-red LEDs are also enhancing road camera systems, such as those used to read number plates. Improvements used to sense the plates mean computers can read them more easily, reducing the risk of error and opening the doorway to additional technologies such as automatic toll booths, ensuring the smooth flow of traffic. Other applications include adaptive cruise control, pre-crash sensing, pedestrian protection and blind spot detection.

The spectrum of possibilities for sensors in advancing the automobile market is virtually infinite. The next generation of vehicles is almost a showcase for the technologies that are set to change all aspects of our lives. We have seen a huge leap in developments in sensor technology based on photodetectors and IR-LEDs, spurred on by new possibilities to make driving safer and more comfortable. Perfecting the sensors required for such technology is crucial for the safety of all road users and pedestrians.

Walter Rothmund is marketing manager for Osram Opto Semiconductors

www.osram.com

Recommend to Colleagues: 

Add new comment

Plain text

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <p> <h1> <h2> <h3> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <strong>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Follow Us:

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
RSS icon