The missing technology in autonomous vision
Israeli-based start-up AdaSky aims to disrupt the autonomous vehicle industry with a FIR thermal sensor solution priced for the mass market.
Sensors have been part of ADAS systems for some time. Primarily these have included Radar, camera and Lidar sensors, all of which have their limitations in terms of detection, thus rendering them unsuitable as singular options to support autonomous driving.
Radar sensors can detect objects far away but can’t identify them. Cameras can determine what an object is but only at close range. Lidar can detect objects and provides a wide field of view but is sensitive to sudden light changes.
Automotive sensor fusion
The US Department for Transportation’s Federal Automated Vehicles Policy requires redundancy for critical AV systems. To address this, most OEMs and tier-ones are using multiple sensors and other components as fail safe measures.
Sensor fusion helps overcome inherent weaknesses by combining several sensor technologies alongside software processing.
AdaSky’s Viper is a “passive” FIR thermal camera sensor. Passive because it only collects signals (unlike Radar and Lidar that transmit as well). This means it has no moving parts, which makes it cheaper to manufacture. Viper senses signals from objects radiating heat and is not light sensitive. It can “see” the road and distinguish between living and non-living objects - even in harsh conditions. It can detect and classify a diverse range of objects - including other vehicles, pedestrians, animals, potholes, debris, traffic signs and more.
The next-generation of sensor technology
There are currently around a dozen leading OEMs trialling Viper globally.
Yakov Shaharabani, AdaSky’s CEO is buoyant about the company’s future: “There’s a real appetite for a next-generation of thermal sensing solutions. 1st-generation FIRs were expensive but this new generation of solid-state products such as Viper are creating interest among auto manufacturers.”
It’s rare that new technology can be categorised as “mature” but thermal imaging, as used by the Military and emergency services, has proven itself in critical applications, which is an advantage in terms of minimising the risks associated with new technology.
Shaharabani is used to high-pressure environments, having spent 34 years in the Israeli Air Force, so the fact that he’s confident in Viper’s ability to empower self-driving vehicles comes as no surprise.