Performance of a Time-of-Flight Range Camera for Intelligent Vehicle Safety Applications

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Abstract

A variety of safety-enhancing automobile features can be enabled by microsystems that can sense and analyze the dynamic 3D environment inside and outside the vehicle. It is desirable to directly sense the 3D shape of the scene, since the appearance of objects in a 2D image is confounded by illumination conditions, surface materials, and object orientation. To overcome the disadvantages of 3D sensing methods such as stereovision, radar, ultrasound, or scanning LADAR, we present Electronic Perception Technology, an advanced range camera module based on measuring the time delay of modulated infrared light from an active emitter, using a single detector chip fabricated on standard CMOS process. This paper overviews several safety applications and their sensor performance requirements, describes the principles of operation of the range camera, and characterizes its performance as configured for airbag deployment occupant sensing and backup obstacle warning applications.