Sensor fusion and radar to drive Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

August 06, 2014 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are essentially driven by a sensor fusion revolution combining radar (forward looking obstacle detection), camera (pedestrian detection, lane keeping, driver monitoring), infra-red (night vision), ultrasonic (automated parking), and LiDAR sensors.

While radar will remain a key technology, boosted by the 79 GHz spectrum band expected to become available globally, camera sensors and machine vision technology hold the promise of propelling ADAS into the mainstream because of its lower cost, flexibility, and multi-purpose character.

ABI Research forecasts automotive camera sensor shipments to reach 197 million by 2020. Main optical sensor suppliers include Aptina (recently acquired by ON Semiconductor), OmniVision, Sony, STMicro, and Toshiba. LiDAR and IR sensor uptake will remain limited during the forecast period due to its high cost.

“Advances in RF transceivers, microcontrollers, and open platforms are also critical as they allow cost reduction through ECU consolidation by sharing MCUs across multiple sensors, and the promise for car OEMs of the availability of end-to-end solutions via ecosystems of software and application vendors. This is illustrated by Freescale’s recent partnerships with CogniVue, Neusoft, and Green Hills,” comments VP and practice director Dominique Bonte.

However, the arrival of autonomous driving will be the single biggest driver for the uptake of ADAS, which will be a critical component of driverless car technology. In the meantime, ADAS should be seen as a precursor of self-driving vehicles and is already becoming the subject of regulation, with the European NCAP including the presence of Speed Assistance Systems, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Warning/Lane Keep Assist as criteria to determine safety ratings. In the United States similar initiatives are being discussed by NHTSA which recently proposed changes to its five-star safety program.