The Venturer autonomous vehicle crossing Bristol’s Clifton suspension bridge

and the technology wasn’t its preferred solution. ‘We have algorithms specifically for the sensor

data fusion,’ Hutchinson said. ‘You are looking at those different data streams and processing them together if possible, so you get an accurate picture – choosing complementary sensors gives you the most efficient way of doing that. Camera and radar are a complementary combination.’ Some of these problems will be solved by

recent advances in sensor technologies. Sensata’s Greg Noelte remarked: ‘Current lidar [does] not comply with the requirements of [SAE] level three, four, and five. Applications in level three automation really require an entirely different kind of lidar sensor.’ At this year’s CES, Sensata’s partner Quanergy

demonstrated one of the first solid-state scanning lidar chips. Tis chip creates an optical beamed

array through the interference of beam patterns. Noelte said that with ‘different patterns of light coming off the silicon in just the right way, you can electronically steer the beam with no moving parts. We can move, for example, 120 degrees. You can then have multiple lasers pointing in lots of different directions. Tis is a scanning technology, so long range, but also no moving parts. Unlike in mechanical, a truly solid-state approach has the ability to lower reaction times to microseconds, which is a very low latency [at a] 25Hz scan rate.’ Significant advances are

Sensata’s solid state lidar device

also being made in vision sensors, with companies such as Chronocam and Inivation developing neuromorphic sensors designed to work more like the retina, highlighting what changes in the scene, rather than capturing the whole scene frame by frame. Inivation’s Bamford explained the technology: ‘Each pixel is an independent sensor of change in light. And if there’s a change in light, a pixel sends a signal – and it does that asynchronously so there are no clocks on the system. What you get is a flux of data about changes in the scene and you get it with extremely low latency – sometimes down to tens of microseconds latency.’ Chronocam’s Luca Verre backed this up,

18 Imaging and Machine Vision Europe • June/July 2017

highlighting that this type of sensor gives both a ‘very high temporal precision, reacting at microsecond precision. You never have motion blur with our sensors.’ Both companies have developed chips that

What you get is a flux of data about changes in the scene and you get it with extremely low latency

give a greater than 120dB dynamic range and that drastically reduces the data being sent to the car’s processing unit. Bamford also said the camera could work in very low levels of light, approximately 0.1lx. While still in its relative

infancy, the neuromorphic sensors are already in the hands of the car manufacturers, with Bamford stating the company is working with five of the top global car manufacturers and

the Renault group announcing a partnership with Chronocam in November 2016. Will the Sedric be the future of transport? If

it is, drivers will have to get over a big trust issue first, according to a Deloitte survey. Fusion Processing’s Hutchinson said: ‘As with

anything new, there will be early adopters. Tat might be those that have had to give up driving but want to maintain a particular lifestyle. It might be people who are very pressed for time. As people try it, they’ll become more comfortable with it. I think it will become quite normal.’ He added: ‘At some point it will be seen as more dangerous to get into a human-driven car.’ O




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