Continental is developing new scalable designs of these driver assistance functions. In the SRL-CAM400, we have for the first time integrated two particularly competitive sensor technologies. By specifically combining the strengths of a camera with those of an infrared range finder (LIDAR), the new sensor module is able to categorize objects in front of the vehicle and detect an imminent collision. In addition to the two sensors, the module houses the entire analysis unit, said Friedrich Angerbauer, head of Continental's Advanced Driver Assistance System's Business Unit. Within a speed range of up 72 km/h, the SRL-CAM400 can help drivers avoid a collision by initiating automatic emergency braking. The difference in speed between the vehicle and an object can be up to 40 km/h. If the speed differences are greater, emergency braking will at least considerably reduce the force of the impact. The new sensor module is currently at the pilot production stage, with series production planned to start in 2015.
Camera and infrared LIDAR complement each other
CMOS cameras are already used for categorizing objects in front of a vehicle. However, by itself, a CMOS camera cannot always provide sufficiently reliable information for initiating automatic emergency braking. This is why Continental is combining this passive sensor technology with an infrared LIDAR in the SRL-CAM400. The LIDAR sensor transmits three pulsed infrared beams with a 905nm wavelength and measures the time-of-flight until the reflected beams reach the receiving optics. The sensor monitors a distance of more than ten meters in front of the vehicle, which classifies it as a short-range LIDAR system. From the speed of light and the time-of-flight, the SRL-CAM400 is able to calculate the distance to the object to an accuracy of up to ten centimeters. In conjunction with the CMOS camera, the analysis unit in the sensor module now has access to both a robust means of object categorization and accurate distance measurement. Before automatic emergency braking is initiated, the two signal paths are compared with each other, thus further enhancing the probability that a correct decision will be made.
Scalability smooths the way to large-scale production
With tight cost restrictions in mind, particularly as regards compact vehicles, the SRL-CAM400 module has been made scalable. Depending on the application, the computing capacity can be adjusted to three levels: 'Entry', 'Basic' and 'Premium'. In all three variants, the SRL-CAM400 always provides robust and reliable data on which to base the decision to initiate automatic emergency braking – and does so in the smallest space. Other advanced driver assistance systems, such as Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Keeping System (LKS), Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) and Intelligent Headlamp Control (IHC) can be installed as additional optional vehicle equipment with the same sensor module. Depending on the level of sensor module, vehicles fitted with the SRL-CAM400 can be awarded points in all Euro NCAP assessment categories. As far as drivers are concerned, having Emergency Brake Assist fitted to their vehicles produces not only safety benefits but also offers the additional attraction of potentially reducing their insurance premiums.