According to a new study from ABI research consumer demand is growing for active safety features in cars and the technology is advancing rapidly as a result. Radar- and lidar-based obstacle-detection systems continue to develop at the high end of the automobile market, and ultrasonic sensors dominate the low end.
The study examined all aspects of automotive machine vision along with the latest safety features that use camera sensors. While obstacle detection is a central part of the study, driver monitoring and occupant detection are discussed at length. The research showed that Camera-based sensing systems are adding functionality at both ends of the market, and are lowering the cost of bringing safety features to consumers.
“The low cost and high performance of cameras, coupled with rapidly developing machine vision capability, are enabling automakers to offer real help for drivers to keep their vehicles on the road, avoiding accidents. Looking forward was the first priority, and now new systems are emerging that can watch all around the vehicle,” says ABI Research principal analyst David Alexander.
The first automotive camera systems provided the driver with information when they were in reverse gear but upcoming innovative options will extend that view all around the vehicle, including bumper-mounted cameras to see all side obstacles. One application of this technology was seen back in 2005 when Volvo launched its Blind Spot Information System (BLIS). The drawback of additional visual aides is that they increase the number of distractions for the driver so machine vision will be the solution in the future, with constant monitoring of the surroundings and alerting the driver only when a problem or danger is imminent occurs. Such is the case with another innovation from Volvo - the Driver Alert Control system shown at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show which alerts the driver when they move off the course of the road or lane.
After market products have also emerged in recent times including Sanyo's CCA-BC200 rear view backup camera system, which utilizes digital processing to eliminate "fish-eye" distortion of images.
While driver assistance via warnings is helpful, the industry is steadily moving toward automatic error correction by the vehicle. With electronic control of braking and steering already implemented in many vehicles, it is only a matter of time (and extensive testing and development) before semi-automatic driving is a reality.
For more on the report entitled "Camera-Based Automotive Systems - Regional Forecasts and Key Competitive Assessment for Driver Assistance Technology", see ABI Research.