Cameras in Vehicles

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the future of driverless cars, but even the most optimistic estimates put a safe, efficient driverless technology – suitable for widespread commercial adoption – years away. In the meantime, machine vision technology will be enormously important in equipping cars with the sensors they need to detect and respond to collision risks.

The automotive sector is expected to become the second-largest market for compact camera modules within just a few years. These cameras will continue to enhance cars’ ability to actively assist with navigation, safety, and keeping passengers entertained on the journey. As the cameras themselves become more precise, augmented reality applications are just around the corner.

Two big areas where sophisticated cameras are making a difference are:

  • Wireless technology for driving enhancement
  • Safety and security on the road

Wireless Technology and the Future of Automotive Machine Vision

While mobile technology has enhanced drivers’ ability to anticipate and avoid road hazards, the growing implementation of wireless in individual vehicles, combined with the proliferation of drones, will help realize a goal that has long been dear to average motorists and commercial drivers alike: Truly real-time updates on traffic conditions and best routes.

The major challenge? Heavy bandwidth demands resulting from the 4K video typically taken by cars. 3D NAND storage and the high-efficiency H.265 video codec will substantially improve compression, raise storage capacity, and reduce bandwidth usage. However, even more progress will be essential as thousands of cars go online each year.

Automotive Machine Vision and a New World of Road Safety

Rear-view cameras were the first vision systems to be widely adopted into modern automobiles. They helped cut down on the risk of collision, but they were and remain mostly useful for routine daily parking. With new compact camera technologies, the industry is on the brink of replacing traditional mirrors entirely with side-view and rearview cameras that eliminate blind spots.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a rule that demands rear visibility technology in all new vehicles below 10,000 pounds by 2018. The rule impacts both consumer and commercial vehicles, including buses and trucks. “Back-over” accidents cause hundreds of deaths throughout the U.S. every year, and this could make a major difference.

Vision system components for the next generation of automotive safety cameras are already being developed by leading companies including Bosch, Delphi, Valeo, and Hella. A complete system aligned with the new requirements is estimated to cost around $142 per vehicle: This will add to the meteoric growth of the automotive camera industry, which is expected to surpass 109 million total units sold before 2020. To prepare, OEMs are staking their claims with value-added software that enhances the driving experience.