Leopold Kostal is presenting a camera-based driver assistance system with Infineon ToF sensor inside. The system detects whether the driver is showing signs of drowsiness (nodding off) or is distracted. And the car instantly responds – with a vibrating seat or a warning tone, for instance. The less attentive the driver gets, the more attentive the car gets. In order to respond quickly and accurately, the assistance and the emergency braking systems can automatically activate in advance of a potential emergency.
“For semi-autonomous or autonomous driving, the assistance system of the vehicle needs to know the state of the driver at all times,” says Frank Blaesing, Head of Innovation Management and Advanced Engineering at Kostal. “It needs to know if and how well the driver is informed about what’s happening on the road at that moment. This information is especially needed when the control over the vehicle needs to be turned back to the driver in a complex traffic situation.”
By 2018, cars with the 3D camera system from Kostal will be running off the assembly line. The optical system is only 49 by 29 millimeters (about 2 by 1 inches) in size and is embedded into the dashboard: Through the steering wheel, it “looks” front-facing at the driver’s body and head. It records the exact head position and recognizes the blink of an eye even through glasses or sunglasses.
The heart of the camera system is the 3D ToF image sensor. At only 7 by 8 millimeters (.28 by .31 inches), it contains a 352 x 288 pixel array, intelligent control logic and a several ADCs. These convert the analog image data (distance and brightness) into digital data in less than a thousandth of a second. The robustness to ambient light irradiation is supported by the Suppression of Background Illumination (SBI) function. SBI is supplied by pmdtechnologies GmbH, the development partner of Infineon in the ToF technology and the 3D image sensor chips.