STMicroelectronics and AdaSky have teamed up to announced a collaboration, in which AdaSky's FIR thermal camera embeds custom silicon co-designed with and manufactured by ST in its proprietary 28nm FD-SO manufacturing technology.
The complete sensing solution from AdaSky, called Viper, aims to enable autonomous vehicles to see and understand the roads and their surroundings in any condition.
Having complete sight and perception of the roadway, other vehicles, roadside infrastructure, and obstacles, especially in challenging lighting or weather conditions, is fundamental to the safe operation of next-gen autonomous cars. To achieve 24/7 autonomous driving, vehicles will rely on the fusion of complementary information streams provided by different sensors.
No sensor or camera in operation today can capture all of the information on its own and each has challenges in certain lighting or weather conditions. Passive infrared vision, like that in AdaSky's Viper, when used in a fusion solution, can help close the gaps to provide accurate sight and perception without fail in dynamic lighting conditions, in direct sunlight, in the face of oncoming headlights, and in harsh weather.
The new camera uses an FIR micro-bolometer sensor to detect the temperature of an object. In an ADAS solution, Viper uses proprietary algorithms based on Convolutional Neural Networks to classify obstacles and show them in a cockpit display to give the driver an early warning. This warning comes several seconds earlier than it would when using a conventional sensor in the visible wavelength and is even faster than what is possible with the human eye.
"With the help of ST, we have created the first high resolution thermal camera for autonomous vehicles with minimal size, weight, and power consumption and no moving parts. ST's access to, and expertise in, ultra-low power design, IP that is fully qualified for automotive applications, and 28nm FD-SOI technology have been vital to meeting the severe power constraints that would challenge our sensors' performance," said Amotz Kats, Vice President Hardware, AdaSky.
"We're in a position to deliver a breakthrough solution to revolutionise and disrupt the autonomous vehicle market because of ST's mastery of automotive qualification and its strong manufacturing supply chain, which grants reliability, long term support, and business continuity to car makers throughout the whole life of their production."
"AdaSky has developed a powerful infrared-based vision sensor and valuable algorithms that add a complementary and incredibly valuable additional layer of information to the existing sensors that will soon be driving autonomous vehicles," said Fabio Marchio, Group Vice President and General Manager, Automotive Digital Division, STMicroelectronics.
"By addressing the challenging and difficult driving conditions that remain one of the largest concerns to true, always-on, 24/7 autonomous driving, AdaSky is enabling these driverless systems."
Viper has been designed in ST's proprietary 28nm FD-SOI manufacturing technology and uses ST IP that is fully qualified for automotive applications. Prototypes are under evaluation by carmakers, targeting a start of production in 2020.