Satellite cameras provide more visibility around the car

December 04, 2019 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Cameras provide more visibility around the car
Automotive technology company Continental has bundled previously separately operating cameras distributed in the vehicle to form a complete system: Multiple so-called satellite cameras deliver precise image data that are processed and evaluated by a central control unit. This modular system enables numerous new functions to support driving comfort and automation.

An application example of an intelligently networked camera system is the "transparent bonnet" function. This function went into series production for the first time at the end of 2018 in an SUV of a European automobile manufacturer (presumably Jaguar Land Rover). When driving slowly - for example when parking or off-roading - the screen in the vehicle shows the surface beneath the engine compartment. With the help of the optical information, a vehicle can be precisely maneuvered in narrow parking spaces with high kerbstones, over road thresholds or over rocks and furrows when driving off-road. The driver gets the impression that the bonnet and the engine compartment underneath are transparent.

Smart video stitching algorithms make the bonnet appear transparent - 
a potential benefit in rough terrain and when parking in confined spaces. © Continental

The image of the terrain below the vehicle is provided by the satellite cameras already installed in many vehicles today, which are located at the front of the radiator grille, at the rear and one each in the foot of the side mirrors. However, the cameras themselves cannot display the area under the vehicle. An image processing algorithm developed by Continental that takes various vehicle sensor data into account reconstructs the image below the vehicle and inserts this image into the panoramic view displayed to the driver.

The "transparent bonnet" is a further extension of what experts call "human vision" systems, which are based on camera displays and support the driver. Basically, this extends the Surround View system to include a view under the car. "We are now combining this 'Human Vision' with the so-called 'Computer Vision'. This term encompasses all camera assistance systems that go beyond mere display to provide a warning or intervention function such as accelerating, steering and braking," says Sascha Semmler, Head of Camera Program Management at Continental.

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