Automobiles can potentially use up-to 12 image sensors i.e. in the front, on the sides and back, and inside as well to view the seating arrangements. Various stakeholders are working towards achieving high-level accuracy in image sensor with the help of depth sensing and high dynamic range. This further allows the image sensor and camera to read about its surrounding in an efficient way. Furthermore, the automotive industry is working toward achieving high-level autonomy in their vehicles where the driver will be in passive mode. For safe and efficient performance and to achieve high-level autonomy, key sensing technologies need to be integrated into the vehicle. This article tracks the recent initiative by the stakeholders in developing sensor technology for the automotive industry.   The key sensing technologies and their developments that are expected to be successfully implemented in the autonomous vehicle are explained in brief below.

FLIR Systems, Inc. and Movidius have collaborated to develop the next-generation thermal imaging device, the Boson camera core. This device employs a Myriad 2 vision processing unit by Movidius, along with its expandable infrared video processing architecture, XIR. The device embodies a cost-efficient and simple thermal imaging system.

New Imaging Technologies have developed the NSC1105 sensor, which is suitable for the demanding traffic conditions. This sensor has a wide dynamic range of over 140 decibels (dB), allowing it to capture extreme lighting differences in the same scenario.

Fastree3D has developed a 3D vision system based on an innovative photo sensor platform, in which data is derived from both hardware and software platforms to provide unambiguous and precise identification of moving objects at long distances and high speed.

BMW has developed a camera system to replace the rear-view mirror and side mirrors. The company provides 4 different cameras, including 2 on the side windows and 2 on the rear window. The camera’s output is shown on the LCD display, providing a wide field of view.

Toshiba America Inc. has developed a 2-megapixel CMOS image sensor, the CSA02M00PB, for automotive cameras. The sensor minimizes image flickering caused by LED lights and provides a clear and accurate images at a faster rate.

Mobileye has developed an advanced collision avoidance system, the Shield+ for trucks, buses, and commercial vehicles. The system employs up to 4 multi-vision smart cameras with compact high dynamic range CMOS technology to avoid and mitigate imminent collisions. With the help of image recognition software, images are processed in the system, and unnecessary warnings that can desensitize drivers over time are reduced.

Technion—Israel Institute of Technology has developed a flexible self-healing sensor which comprises of a synthetic polyurethane and a sensing layer made up of organic-capped gold nanoparticles. Researchers have developed a self-healing sensor on the basis of reformation of hydrogen bonds between the polymer chains of 2 sides. When exposed to the external environment, the flexible sensor can sense the pressure, volatile organic compounds, and temperature.

Researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum University has developed a single voltage sensor to monitor complete EV battery irrespective of number of cells. This will further reduce the cost and weight of the vehicle and in addition, will efficiently track the operation.

Improvements and innovations in fabrication techniques will lower the cost of sensors and, at the same time, allow more circuitry to be packed in a small chip. Innovators and start-ups should partner with device manufacturers to develop specific solutions for each application.

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