Automakers are currently evaluating prototypes of Viper from AdaSky, a Far Infrared (FIR) thermal camera that embeds custom silicon co-designed with and manufactured by ST in 28nm FD-SOI. The complete sensing solution aims to enable autonomous vehicles to see and understand the roads and their surroundings in any condition.
“With the help of ST, we have created the first high-resolution thermal camera for autonomous vehicles with minimal size, weight, and power consumption–and no moving parts. ST’s access to, and expertise in, ultra-low-power design, IP that is fully qualified for automotive applications, and 28nm FD-SOI technology have been vital to meeting the severe power constraints that would challenge our sensors’ performance,” said Amotz Kats, Vice President Hardware, AdaSky. “We’re in a position to deliver a breakthrough solution to revolutionize and disrupt the autonomous vehicle market because of ST’s mastery of automotive qualification and its strong manufacturing supply chain, which grants reliability, long-term support, and business continuity to car makers throughout the whole life of their production.”
Passive infrared vision, like that in AdaSky’s Viper, when used in a fusion solution, can help close the gaps to provide accurate sight and perception without fail in dynamic lighting conditions, in direct sunlight, in the face of oncoming headlights, and in harsh weather.
The new camera uses an FIR micro-bolometer sensor to detect the temperature of an object. In an ADAS solution, Viper uses proprietary algorithms based on Convolutional Neural Networks to classify obstacles and show them in a cockpit display to give the driver an early warning. This warning comes several seconds earlier than it would when using a conventional sensor in the visible wavelength and is even faster than what is possible with the human eye.
The two companies say that the Far-Infrared thermal camera extends ADAS sensor fusion capability with a new layer of information, helping pave the way to fully-autonomous driving in any condition. Prototypes are now under evaluation by carmakers with initial production targeted for 2020. (Read the full press release here.)