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AdaSky Demonstrates its Thermal Vision Solution for Autonomous Cars at CES

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【Summary】AdaSky was among the many companies showing off impressive autonomous driving technology at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, where the company demonstrated its VIPER vision system. AdaSky says it’s a breakthrough sensing solution to enable autonomous driving in any lighting or weather condition.

Original Eric Walz    Jan 18, 2018 8:30 AM PT
AdaSky Demonstrates its Thermal Vision Solution for Autonomous Cars at CES

LAS VEGAS —  AdaSky was among the many companies showing off impressive autonomous driving technology at this year's CES in Las Vegas, where the company demonstrated its VIPER vision system. AdaSky says it's a breakthrough sensing solution to enable autonomous driving in any lighting or weather condition.

AdaSky has combined a far infrared (FIR) thermal camera with advanced machine vision algorithms that allows autonomous vehicles see and understand the road in the rain, at night, and in fog. The compact system is 2.6 cm in diameter and 4.3 cm long. The solid state camera has no moving parts and meets ISO 26262 safety standards.

AdaSky's perception solution allows autonomous vehicles to reliably detect, segment, and analyze pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, objects, and road conditions, regardless of weather conditions. The Viper is also passive, which means it does not need to illuminate the road ahead, nor will it cause interference with other vehicle systems.


We drove off in the Cadillac in light rain and fog, unusual weather for normally sunny Las Vegas, but perfect conditions to show off the Viper's thermal detection capabilities.


AdaSky's Viper allows the vehicle to sense and analyze its surroundings by passively collecting FIR signals to detect the thermal energy radiated from objects and their body heat.  AdaSky's image processing and computer vision algorithms process the signals collected by the camera to provide accurate object detection and scene analysis, giving the vehicle a new layer of perception information.

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AdaSky's Vison FIR camera, mounted on the roof of a Cadillac CTS

I met with Eyal Madar, Vice President of R&D at AdaSky, and Albert Achtenberg, Vice President of Software Engineering, who offered me a demonstration of the company's Viper vision system.

The company installed its camera on the roof of a Cadillac CTS test vehicle to demonstrate the camera's capabilities. We drove off in the Cadillac from the CES event in light rain and fog, unusual weather for normally sunny Las Vegas, but perfect conditions to show off the Viper's thermal detection capabilities.

AdaSky says it uses advanced machine learning algorithms to identify objects within the camera's field of view. The system worked well, it was able to detect and highlight pedestrians from over 150 meters away, well before a human driver could see them. Other sensors used in autonomous development, such as LiDAR and radar have reduced performance under these low-visibility conditions.

During our test drive, pedestrians were automatically detected and labeled, as the system quickly highlighted each person on the display. As we drove down a tree lined road, even birds roosting in the nearby trees to escape the rain were picked up and displayed as white objects on the dash mounted display.


How Thermal Cameras Work

Thermal sensitivity is measured in milliKelvins (mK). Infrared cameras are more sensitive with values at the low end of the scale. For example, cameras with 50 mK are about 4 times as sensitive as a camera with 200 mK of thermal sensitivity. The more sensitive (50 mK) cameras provide a wider temperature difference, resulting in more colors on the thermal display.

AdaSky's FIR camera operates in the 50 mK range, enabling it to pick up cars, living creatures such as dogs, and other man-made objects.

To achieve autonomous driving, vehicles must first have fail-safe vision and perception in dynamic, changing lighting conditions, including direct sunlight.

AdaSky aims to bridge this gap and expedite level 3, 4, and even up to level 5 autonomous driving with its FIR camera, which allows a vehicle to ‘see' up to 200 meters down the road in total darkness and in any lighting or weather conditions.

AdaSky does not intend to replace other sensors on the market today. The Viper is intended as a supplemental system. Viper helps fill in gaps in perception left by other vision cameras, such as radar and LiDAR – and even sensor fusion results from a combination of all three. Automakers can utilize Viper to add an additional layer to the vehicle's perception ability, enabling car manufacturers to realize the goal of producing fully autonomous vehicles.


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