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Siemens VDO integrates Night Vision in the head-up display

Siemens VDO Automotive is integrating a night vision system in the head-up display to effectively support nighttime driving in the future. With infrared technology and high-performance electronics, it literally provides vision in the dark and under poor visibility conditions, helping drivers to spot pedestrians and other potential accident hazards on the road. The result is a considerable increase in safety at night when many accidents occur. Night Vision is one of the functionalities within a network of driver assistance systems that Siemens VDO is currently developing.

Traffic accidents occurring in the evening and at night are considerably over-represented in the statistics. Although there is on average roughly 80 percent less traffic at night than in daytime, every fourth serious accident occurs during this time. Around one third of all road deaths are a result of accidents after the sun goes down. Currently, approximately one quarter of all serious injuries caused by road accidents occur at night. While many of these accidents are due to excessive speeds and alcohol consumption, accident researchers from the automobile industry assume that vision and visual perception problems led to dangerous situations in approximately every second nighttime accident.

To help drivers handle difficult road conditions and spot unexpected obstacles and hazardous situations and react more quickly when driving at night, Siemens VDO is making the darker environment surrounding the vehicle visible by means of an infrared system. Completely invisible to the driver and oncoming traffic, Night Vision sees up to 150 meters ahead. The system generates an electronically processed video image that can be displayed either directly in the freely configurable head-up display or on a TFT cockpit monitor. Displaying the image in the head-up display has the advantage that the improved night vision can be seen in the direct field of vision in the windshield. On this black-and-white image, drivers see the nighttime road, as well as they would with an advanced bi-xenon high beam headlight, even if they are driving with dipped headlights with a light range of approximately 60 meters.

Siemens VDO has designed Night Vision as a modular system that can be flexibly adapted to the requirements of the vehicle manufacturer. The company offers its customers the choice between two technologies with different frequency ranges. With the so-called near infrared system, two barely noticeable infrared emitters are integrated into the headlights. The infrared light, with a wavelength of approximately 0.9 micrometers, is captured and processed by a small camera positioned close to the rear-view mirror. The camera produces an electronically optimized, very realistic image that is transmitted in real time to the head-up display or a monitor.

Siemens VDO has also developed a far infrared system as a solution in the long-wave spectral range. With this system, a high-resolution infrared camera has to be installed behind the radiator grille. Like the cameras in search-and-rescue helicopters used by the rescue services, it detects the infrared heat radiation from the surroundings in a wavelength of 6 to 12 micrometers and displays this as a negative image of the real thing. Inanimate, and therefore cold objects such as automobiles or houses, are represented as dark images, while living, warmer objects such as pedestrians or animals appear brighter on the monitor than other objects.

Siemens VDO also has realized pedestrian marking in the video image using this technology in a prototype system designed to quickly and conveniently alert the driver's to pedestrians in the road area in the future. In a first prototype, this is made possible by high-performance image processing electronics that analyze all the image data according to temperature differences and typical shapes. In this way, a pedestrian outside the beam of light from the headlights can be differentiated from a tree and marked on the monitor with a warning symbol. Even before the driver is able to see a child on his way to school in the morning or someone walking home late at night on the side of the road or an evening jogger on the edge of the woods for example, Night Vision has located the pedestrian and displayed the corresponding warning symbol.

Drivers could have an electronic assistant on board providing helpful support when driving at night, offering enhanced driving comfort. Naturally, with or without electronic vision support, the ultimate responsibility for recognizing obstacles in the road remains with the driver.

The electronic pedestrian warning assistant still is under development and will be some time before it is ready for the market. However, Siemens VDO's prototype of Night Vision is complete and the system could go into production as early as 2008.

Night Vision is one of the components of a network of driver assistance systems that Siemens VDO currently is developing for series production. It will actively alert drivers to potential hazards and help unburden them from routine tasks. As a driver assistance systems supplier, the company sees the comfortable interaction between driver and system as a key development priority alongside the function of electronic recognition and evaluation of the driver's surroundings. After all, it is the human-machine interface that will ultimately decide whether future driver assistance systems become accepted by consumers.

Lunes, 04 Julio, 2005 - 06:01
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