Auto Electronics

The growing opportunity for advanced driver assistance systems

It's been a late night at work, you've slept six hours in three days, and you're finally getting in your car to go home. You're speeding down the dark, empty highway when suddenly you find yourself waking up from what was almost your worst nightmare. Your heart is pounding. What just happened? Your car saved your life!

From drowsy driver detection to forward collision and lane departure warnings, cars are getting smarter. As driver/passenger safety and convenience continue to be the most important factors for regulatory bodies, OEMs, and users, the market potential for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is emerging as a growing opportunity.

ADAS applications offer drivers increased awareness of the traffic environment and warnings on adverse conditions and can be classified in three categories: forward-facing imager applications, rear-facing imager applications and in-vehicle sensing. Forward-facing imager applications monitor the area to the front of the vehicle and include intelligent high beam controllers, lane departure warning, lane keeping, traffic signal detection, traffic sign board recognition, adaptive cruise control, stop and go, forward collision warning/avoidance and pedestrian protection. Rear-facing imager applications monitor the area to the rear of the vehicle, including blind-spot detection, side object detection, lane change assist, reverse aid and park assist. In-vehicle sensing monitors the interior and the passengers, including drowsy driver detection and smart airbag deployment.

MARKET POTENTIAL FOR ADAS

ADAS is available only in the high-end segments, but the future is promising. Market analysts believe that there is potential for growth due to governmental concerns over the high rate of collision injuries. ADAS is expected to reach 10% penetration by 2013, according to Strategy Analytics. North America and parts of Europe are seeing this growth through an increased volume of safety regulations for vehicle manufacturers emphasizing the inclusion of many ADAS features as a standard in their vehicles. As vendors bring developments to the market, ADAS will become easier and less costly to install, enabling automakers to incorporate ADAS systems in mainstream models.

ADVANTAGES AND LIMITATIONS

ADAS can be realized using different technologies, the most prevalent being vision, radar, LIDAR, ultrasonic, and infrared. Each technology is used in a different scenario and has its advantages and limitations.

Vision technology offers the widest range of benefits as it is capable of determining lane markings and traffic signs. Supplementing it with radar or similar technologies can alleviate vision technology drawbacks.

Vision technology has the potential to generate multiple ADAS applications from a single hardware or software architecture, making vision technology unique and increasingly popular.

Having been used in the aerospace industry for decades, radar was applied to the automotive industry as a mature technology. While this technology has become one of the most popular options and is useful for determining range, there are drawbacks, such as the inability to identify lane markings, traffic signs, and poor lateral resolution of vehicles.

Light detection and ranging (LIDAR), ultrasonic and infrared are three other technologies that show promise, yet their limitations will prevent them from emerging as a complete ADAS solution. LIDAR is an optical remote-sensing technology that measures properties of scattered light to find range and other information of a distant target. However, LIDAR's sensitivity to the external environment and the probability of laser power going beyond safe limits will prevent this technology from mainstream entry into the automotive sensor market. Ultrasound-based sensors can provide accurate measurements at low speeds and short distances, making it an ideal choice for park and reverse assist applications. Infrared technology is an advanced technology for night-vision applications, but its implementation with ADAS will be limited.

With an estimated six million car accidents yearly in the United States, there's a need for technologies that prevent accidents. While there have been advances in radar and vision technologies, companies are continuing to invest in innovative solutions that ensure an “advanced passenger experience.”


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Binu RC is a manager of business development and market research at HCL Technologies' automotive embedded systems group. Srinivasan R is a technical manager at HCL Technologies' automotive embedded systems group.

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