Image sensors improve occupant monitoring in cars

Image sensors improve occupant monitoring in cars

New Products |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The new image sensors, type designation VG5661 and VG5761, have a resolution of 1.6 and 2.3 megapixels, respectively. They improve occupant monitoring by capturing the scene illuminated by the camera, eliminating unpredictable external effects such as sunlight or street lighting. The outstanding image quality of the new image sensors enables driver monitoring systems to react more precisely, especially in near-infrared lighting with a wavelength near 940 nm, and enables new features such as capturing the driver’s attention, occupant well-being and children’s behaviour. It is also intended to identify driver fatigue as an important factor for driving safety. The new sensors incorporate ST’s Automotive Global Shutter technology, which effectively minimizes power consumption for lighting even in HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode. In contrast to rolling shutter sensors, in which the data is read line by line directly from the pixels, global shutter sensors record all pixel data at once.

Improved driver monitoring with ST’s image sensors can therefore help to reduce the number of injured and road fatalities. In addition, the high detection accuracy of autonomous driving systems helps to assess the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle while driving. This in turn makes it easier to switch between manual and autonomous driving, thus ensuring greater comfort and safety. The Euro NCAP 2025 Roadmap as a European system for assessing the safety of motor vehicles has classified driver monitoring, which is also a prerequisite for automated driving, as the primary safety feature with the highest priority.

In cooperation with the automotive software providers Jungo Connectivity and AutoSens, ST recently demonstrated at Electronica how the new sensors can be used to create the prerequisites for next-generation driver assistance system applications. Jungo’s driver monitoring software uses the images from the ST image sensors to monitor the positions and movements of all people in the vehicle, obtain information about the driver’s condition, and simultaneously detect the position and movement of all other vehicle occupants. The demonstration underscored the possibilities for improving interactions between autonomous and human drivers and at the same time demonstrates how occupant monitoring creates better possibilities for increasing comfort and safety.

The sensors are currently being sampled. Together with key customers, ST is working to enable their use in new driver assistance systems for the next vehicle generations.

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