Artificial Intelligence

The next step towards accident-free driving

30th October 2013
Nat Bowers

Although they help prevent many accidents, the camera systems in our cars today often monitor only the area in front of or behind a vehicle. In January, Continental acquired British specialist ASL Vision, which was integrated as the ‘Surround View’ segment into the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Business Unit of the Chassis & Safety Division.

Wolfgang Fey, head of the Surround View segment at international automotive supplier Continental, and also joint Managing Director of ASL Vision, comments: “The next step towards accident-free driving is going to be 360-degree surround detection that monitors not only the area in front of, or behind a vehicle, but also all around it. The development of intelligent surround view systems for cars will also represent a major contribution to automated driving. Continental and ASL Vision can draw from long years of development in the field of complex vehicle cameras."

ASL Vision' solutions are currently in use in over three million vehicles throughout the world. Designed for trucks, busses and special vehicles such as for mining, the ASL360 is also available for cars and primarily operates in small series vehicles.

Comprising four fisheye cameras (each can capture more than 185 degrees of the horizontal field of view), the ASL360 Surround View system features an electronic control unit which blends the four views into one image on a display in the cockpit. Enabling drivers to park and maneuver safely at low speeds, this image stitching permits the calculation and display of the vehicle‘s position from a variety of angles. Images from a single camera are also possible for keeping an eye on critical areas when maneuvering. While the ASL360 provides two-dimensional images, future surround view systems will deliver 3D views and will also be able to recognize objects and realise driver assistance functions. The first 3D surround view system is planned to go into production in 2016. Whilst four cameras are usually sufficient, the system supports up to six cameras, dependant upon the specifications of individual automobile manufacturers.

Enabling surround view to be implemented in different vehicle segments, there are several types of scalable systems in development. The basic version provides a pure 360-degree 3D image to assist in parking and maneuvering at low speeds. Employing only one forward- and one rear-facing camera, this entry-level system is targetted at the compact-car segment due to its attractive pricing. Even permiting vehicles to park themselves automatically with no driver present, the premium version consists of four cameras (in front, in the rear and on the outside rearview mirrors) and can also recognize pedestrians, warn the driver or even stop the vehicle in critical situations. It is also capable of recognizing crossing traffic, lane detection and even detecting curbstones. With all thsee advanced features, the premium version of the surround view system will be ideal for city driving.

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