Saving lives with stereo vision

Brand new cars are loaded with electronics, in many shapes and forms. The use of technology to increase safety, fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness has revolutionised the way cars are built. For Autoliv, a world leader in automotive safety, technology can help to save lives.

Seven years ago, Autoliv decided to look at the possibilities of developing a new vehicle camera that could broaden the use of adaptive control systems. They teamed up with Optronic, who provided help with optics and lenses in the early stages of the development, as well as building a prototype of a camera for testing.

"We needed Optronic's competence in optics and mechanics," says Salah Hadi, Research and Development Director for Vision and Night Vision at Autoliv. "Their input was valuable, as we explored several ways to design stereo cameras, and integrate them into the vehicles."

The purpose of mounting a camera on a vehicle is to broaden the functionality of the adaptive cruise control systems., This can be achieved by improved calculation of the distance, direction and speed of vehicles and pedestrians directly in front of the vehicle. With a camera-based system additional safety features can added, such as lane departure assist to ensure that a vehicle does not veer into opposing lanes of traffic

"This is an exciting area, and I'm sure we'll see interesting results in the future, but the success depends on an acceptable price tag for the end customer," says Salah Hadi.

As part of the project, Optronic built a 3D camera prototype using selective laser sintering techniques, often used to design advanced biomechanic details, such as hip joint capsules. Since then, Autoliv has furthered the development of the cameras towards serial production.