For five years, Michael Lunoe, President of Zorg Industries, had been in need of a camera system that could identify objects and provide accurate distance from the rear of a vehicle.
Zorg Industries, a Hong-Kong-based operation with offices in five countries including the US, UK, Korea, Australia, and China, builds Smart Park™ collision avoidance and vehicle integration products. The company sells these parking sensors, reversing cameras, and LCD monitors to larger aftermarket distributors, some car manufacturers, including Toyota, as well as automotive electronics distributors like Audiovox Corp., headquartered in Hauppauge, NY.
“We actually got a large grant from the Australian government to develop this technology, and we couldn’t get it done, primarily because the processing power that we needed made it price-prohibitive,” Lunoe said.
In February of 2010, it was Audiovox that introduced Lunoe to CogniVue Corp., a Gatineau, Quebec, Canada-based company that provides Image Cognition Processors (ICPs) and software. The two vendors have since teamed up to create products that integrate the capabilities of a camera with the capabilities of a parking sensor.
“There’s a reason bumpers don’t have electronics. They’re designed for bumping. The only reason people put parking sensors in them was because they had to,” said Lunoe.
The standard cameras alone offer a passive view from the rear of the vehicle to the driver’s display. The small-footprint chip from CogniVue, however, has allowed a great deal of cognitive processing, according to Lunoe, including scene analysis to detect objects or pedestrians, display distance estimation, and offer multiple-view options. The CV220X processor is available in a 9x9mm2 BGA package and dissipates around 250mW of power depending on the application.
One year after their meeting, Smart Park Automotive Technologies’ MultiView Cam with Pedestrian Warning won a Best of Innovations Design and Engineering award at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV. The SmartPark CAM430MV combines multiple viewing angles with digital imaging technology. To achieve a wide view, the reversing camera, currently in production, uses a 180-degree glass lens and CMOS digital sensor.
“To have that at market within 12 months is pretty extraordinary, considering I’d been trying to do it for 5 years,” said Lunoe.
The MultiView CAM with Pedestrian Warning will be commercially available in the coming months, he said. The miniature camera, mounted on the rear of the vehicle, will monitor the area behind the car and identify objects in its path. The system will give the driver an audible and/or visual alert to the presence of a person or object behind the vehicle. The camera's reversing image, which includes a graphic overlay of colored icons to denote distance and closure rate, can be displayed in various locations, including the factory radio. The driver can also use a portable GPS with reverse camera input, a dedicated LCD, or a rear-view mirror with built-in LCD display.
Next in the queue is the SmartPark CAM-BSD1 Blind Spot Detection camera system, as well as the SmartPark CAM-LDFCW, which is currently in the works and will supply collision avoidance technology in a small windscreen mounted camera. The forward-collision standalone unit similarly uses a glass lens with CMOS digital sensor, and incorporates processing as well as the audio and visual warning displays.
“The first generation is lane-departure warning, which basically means if you lose concentration, or you fall asleep, and your vehicle leaves the lane you’re traveling in without you indicating that you’re planning to leave that lane, the system alerts the driver to pay attention again,” said Lunoe. “And the next stage from there is forward-collision warning,” where the imaging system monitors the closure distance between two vehicles.”
The specifications for the SmartPark CAM-BSD1 blind-spot detection system have been confirmed, but the product is not yet available in commercial form. Lunoe expects these to be in the market by year’s end as the company develops the hardware for specific vehicles.
Lunoe said Zorg is “probably 80 percent down the track on lane-change warning and blind-spot detection,” and he looks forward to opportunities that use vision rather than radar for automotive safety functions, including human detection for pedestrian warning.
“I’ve got a whole list of stuff that I’d like to do,” said Lunoe.
For free info related to CogniVue Corp.’s image processor, visit http://info.hotims.com/34455-156. For more information about Smart Park Automotive Technologies products, visit http://info.hotims.com/34455-155 .