Osram Introduces First Automotive Camera with Infrared and Visible Capabilities

June 03, 2015 by Jennifer A. Diffley

The first automotive camera with infrared and visible capabilities enables advancements in driver safety and accident avoidance.

The first automotive camera with infrared and visible capabilities enables advancements in driver safety and accident avoidance.

Osram Opto Semiconductors and Advanced Vision Systems partner to develop a camera that provides high quality images at night or in poor lighting conditions. Driver monitoring can warn a fatigued driver to pull over and rest.  The new system also supports other ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) features like lane departure warning and switching between autonomous and manual driving mode. In extreme cases, such as drunk driving, it can disable the vehicle. Until now the technology has been wrought with visibility limitations at 940 nm infrared wavelengths. Osram and Advanced Vision Systems developed a new camera system that is now available for original equipment manufacturers. The system combines an Osram emitter with an Advanced Vision Systems camera to create the first infrared camera with exceptional image quality in visible, 400-700 nm, and near infrared, 940 nm, spectrums. Normally this technology would require two different cameras and alternating filters. 

“Osram is excited to combine its expertise with this leading tech company to engineer the most efficient and high image quality camera that works in both the visible and IR spectrum”, said Rajeev Thakur, Infrared Product Marketing Manager of Osram Opto Semiconductors. “We developed special automotive qualified IR emitters that enable Advanced Vision Systems to find the right balance between required illuminations for both camera and eye safety.”

Driver monitoring technology uses an IR camera with active illumination. The camera is mounted inside the vehicle and positioned towards the face of the driver in order to monitor their eyes, nose and face. Active illumination from Osram IR 940 nm high power stack emitters, as used in the IR Oslon, provides light not perceptible by the human eye. The light is reflected from the driver’s face and captured by the image sensor.

Cameras currently in production do not work well at night or in poor lighting conditions. They don’t produce quality images in the IR spectrum and several require a 850 nm emitter which has a red glow, that can be distracting to drivers because the human eye is more sensitive to this wavelength. This new camera from Advanced Vision Systems uses Osram Oslon 940 nm emitters, which eliminate the red glow, use fewer LEDs and require less power consumption per LED. In addition to a more efficient and safer driver monitoring camera, the potential use in other automotive applications includes side view or surround view camera for blind spot detection, rear view camera for cross traffic alerts, and self-parking. It is an ideal driver monitoring solution that provides cost savings for other applications.

“To achieve optimal camera platform performance, we needed the participation of highly capable development partners”, said Brian Skocaj, President of Advanced Vision Systems. “Osram is a recognized leader in IR and a key partner not only in the development process but the market development as well. The product and ease of delivery highlights the benefits of collaboration and the types of breakthroughs that can be achieved when companies skillfully combine expertise.”

Driver monitoring is also an essential piece of technology needed for the advancement of autonomous driving. In scenarios where the driver needs to take back control from the car, a monitoring system will need to ‘watch’ the driver in order to give them adequate time to safely do so. Special image sensors for IR are needed because the emitters used must match the sensitivity peak of the image sensor and also provide adequate illumination without causing eye safety issues.


Why It Matters:

Rumors abound about a certain Silicon Valley behemoth getting into the car business. Whether or not that's true, automated driving is absolutely happening soon and this camera is an indication of its potential.