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5 June 2015

Osram and Advanced Vision Systems develop first automotive camera with IR and visible capabilities

Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH of Regensburg, Germany and Michigan-based Advanced Vision Systems LLC (which develops camera technologies for transportation and security markets) have partnered to develop a camera that provides high-quality images at night or in poor lighting conditions.

Driver monitoring can warn a fatigued driver to pull over and rest. It also supports other ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) features such as lane-departure warning and switching between autonomous and manual driving modes. In extreme cases, such as drunk driving, it can disable the vehicle.

Until now the technology has suffered visibility limitations at 940nm infrared wavelengths. However, Osram and Advanced Vision Systems have developed a new camera system that is now available for original equipment manufacturers. The system combines an Osram emitter with an Advanced Vision Systems camera to create what is reckoned to be the first infrared camera with exceptional image quality in both visible (400-700nm) and near-infrared (940nm) spectrums. Normally this technology would require two different cameras and alternating filters.

"We developed special automotive-qualified IR emitters that enable Advanced Vision Systems to find the right balance between required illuminations for both camera and eye safety," says Osram Opto's infrared product marketing manager Rajeev Thakur. 

Driver monitoring technology uses an IR camera with active illumination. The camera is mounted inside the vehicle and positioned towards the face of the driver in order to monitor their eyes, nose and face. Active illumination from Osram IR 940nm high-power stack emitters, as used in the IR Oslon, provides light that is not perceptible by the human eye. The light is reflected from the driver's face and captured by the image sensor.

Cameras currently in production do not work well at night or in poor lighting conditions. They do not produce quality images in the IR spectrum and several require an 850nm emitter that has a red glow, which can be distracting to drivers because the human eye is more sensitive to this wavelength. The new camera from Advanced Vision Systems uses Osram's Oslon 940nm emitters, which eliminate the red glow, use fewer LEDs, and require less power consumption per LED. In addition to a more efficient and safer driver monitoring camera, the potential use in other automotive applications includes side-view or surround-view cameras for blind spot detection, rear-view cameras for cross-traffic alerts, and self-parking. It is hence a suitable driver monitoring solution that provides cost savings for other applications.

"To achieve optimal camera platform performance, we needed the participation of highly capable development partners," says Advanced Vision Systems' president Brian Skocaj. "Osram is a recognized leader in IR and a key partner not only in the development process but the market development as well," he adds. 

Driver monitoring is also an essential piece of technology needed for the advancement of autonomous driving. In scenarios where the driver needs to take back control from the car, a monitoring system will need to 'watch' the driver in order to give them adequate time to safely do so. Special image sensors for IR are needed because the emitters used must match the sensitivity peak of the image sensor and also provide adequate illumination without causing eye-safety issues.

Tags: Osram Oslon IR LED

Visit: www.osram-os.com

Visit: www.advancedvisionsystems.com

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