Sensor improves safety

21 October 2008

CMOS sensor is for vision-based advanced driver assistance systems.

The role of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is to increase the driver’s awareness of conditions around their vehicle, detecting dangers and providing support in hazardous situations. It is estimated that more than 90% of all automobile accidents involve human error and many could be eliminated with automatic warning systems.

To meet this demand, a CMOS camera specifically designed for the vision-based driver-assistance segment of the automotive market has been launched by STMicroelectronics. It provides real-time information for active safety systems and the sensor is claimed to complement the dedicated vision-processor family developed by the company via its collaboration with Mobileye.

The VL5510 sensor feeds the decision-making vision processor that activates functions such as active braking and lane-departure warning. These are features that are already being seen on passenger vehicles and are planned to be mandatory in Europe for heavy goods vehicles from 2013 as part of the European Commission’s drive to reduce road fatalities.

The VL5510 sensor has a 1024 x 512pixel format, making it suitable for wide-angle products, which are common in the automotive environment. According to the manufacturer, it provides 5.6 x 5.6micron pixel size, high sensitivity (7.14V/lux), very low dark current of 33aA/pixel at 25˚C, and high QE (Quantum Efficiency) at ‘near infra-red’. Additionally, system flexibility offers ADAS manufacturers the opportunity to tune the system optimally for each application, with features such as fully programmable output image size and frame rate (up to 34fps), video delivered via 12bit parallel interface or serial interface (RAW 8/10/12 format). Anti dark sun and defect pixel correction algorithms are also integrated, together with an image histogram embedded in the delivered image.

The device is currently sampling to lead customers and will be in mass production in automotive applications in early 2009.

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