Auto Electronics

Hella supplies traffic sign detection camera for 2009 Opel Insignia

Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. is providing General Motors’ European 2009 Opel Insignia with a camera system that can read traffic signs and warn of unintended lane departures.

The optional camera, known as the Opel Eye, is mounted at the base of the rearview mirror. It’s paired with Hella’s Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system, which helps drivers stay in a chosen lane on dual-lane roadways by sounding an alarm if road safety lines are crossed.

“Hella’s electronics specialists worked with GM engineers in Russelsheim, Germany, to develop the Opel Eye, which has a high-resolution camera with a wide-angle lens and processor,” said Dr. Martin Fischer, president of Hella’s Corporate Center U.S.A.

Hella’s traffic sign detection system reads speed-limit signs, no passing signs and other traffic restriction markers and displays a symbol on the vehicle’s dashboard. The system also saves sign images for short periods of time. “For example, if you’ve ever missed a speed-limit sign for a road you’re on, this system can retrieve it with a push of a button,” Fischer noted.

The camera, which is about the size of a cell phone, takes 30 photos per second. The images are filtered and evaluated by two signal processors and special software. Signs are detected and read several times from a distance of about a football field. If a photo corresponds to a stored traffic sign, a warning signal lights up on the instrument panel. The camera also detects construction-zone speed limits, and also detects special traffic conditions, such as different speed limits for different lanes.

When activated by the driver, Hella’s LDW system sounds a warning gong and flashes a light on the instrument panel. The LDW system works at speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour. The system’s signal processor filters pictures taken by a front camera, looking for lines and longitudinal structures to recognize traffic lanes. It monitors steering wheel movements and uses algorithms, only issues a warning in hazardous situations.

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