New image sensors improve automotive occupant monitoring

December 04, 2018 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
With the introduction of the various levels of automated driving, systems for monitoring the driver are moving into the spotlight, because the "electronic chauffeur" needs to know at all times whether the human driver has just turned his attention to the road or is pursuing other things. STMicroelectronics has now introduced two new Automotive Global Shutter image sensors for such applications.

The new image sensors, type designation VG5661 and VG5761, have a resolution of 1.6 and 2.3 megapixels, respectively. They improve occupant monitoring by capturing the scene illuminated by the camera, eliminating unpredictable external effects such as sunlight or street lighting. The outstanding image quality of the new image sensors enables driver monitoring systems to react more precisely, especially in near-infrared lighting with a wavelength near 940 nm, and enables new features such as capturing the driver's attention, occupant well-being and children's behaviour. It is also intended to identify driver fatigue as an important factor for driving safety. The new sensors incorporate ST's Automotive Global Shutter technology, which effectively minimizes power consumption for lighting even in HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode. In contrast to rolling shutter sensors, in which the data is read line by line directly from the pixels, global shutter sensors record all pixel data at once.

Improved driver monitoring with ST's image sensors can therefore help to reduce the number of injured and road fatalities. In addition, the high detection accuracy of autonomous driving systems helps to assess the driver's ability to operate the vehicle while driving. This in turn makes it easier to switch between manual and autonomous driving, thus ensuring greater comfort and safety. The Euro NCAP 2025 Roadmap as a European system for assessing the safety of motor vehicles has classified driver monitoring, which is also a prerequisite for automated driving, as the primary safety feature with the highest priority.


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