Can cameras, radar, sensors make cars safer?

In theory at least, as cars are outfitted with more advanced electronics,  safer vehicles should be at least one of the main results.

Networks drive the car of the future

A report out today predicts that the market for ultrasonic, LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), radar and camera-based sensors for automotive applications will grow rapidly, from $0.7 billion in 2009 to $2.4 billion in 2017.

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The report from IMS Research "The World Market for Automotive Sensors", notes that the market for ultrasonic sensors will grow as the use of park/reverse assist systems and self-parking systems increases.

"Today, many fewer LIDAR, radar and camera-based sensors are used in cars than ultrasonic sensors. This is because they are featured in emerging applications fitted to only a few vehicles. However, these applications will become much more common and the market for their sensors is forecast to increase dramatically. For example, we forecast that the market for automotive camera-based sensors will be almost six times bigger in 2017 than in 2009," said IMS' automotive research director, Jon Cropley, in a statement.

Many ultrasonic sensors are already used in light vehicles for park/reverse assist systems anti-lock braking systems (ABS), airbags and engine emissions controls.

In the near future new applications for these technologies will only grow.  They include adaptive cruise control, night vision, driver monitoring, lane-departure warning, drive recorders and multi-view systems. Many of these applications were fitted to fewer than 1% of all light vehicles produced in 2010.

In a paper from Stephen Prosser of TRW Automotive noted a number of future applications for these technologies. From the paper:• Future development of the active and passive safety systems will enable the vehicle to sense and interpret its surrounding environment, recognize potentially dangerous situations and provide a pre-determined level of support to the driver.• Blind-spot detection, lane change monitoring and roundabout shunt prevention are examples of systems that could be enabled through the deployment of vision-based sensors and multiple sensor data fusion techniques.• Parking assistance systems a production reality. Ultrasonic sensors mounted on the sides of vehicles will measure the length and depth of a parking space as the vehicle drives past it. The system then calculates the maneuvers that are required to steer the vehicle safely into the space. The driver is then provided with sound or visual instructions to complete the task. A future enhancement would involve the use of electronically controlled steering system to execute the maneuver automatically.

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This story, "Can cameras, radar, sensors make cars safer?" was originally published by Network World.

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