Since its first announcement back in October 2014 to commercialize image sensors for automotive use, Sony, has released a number of highly advanced products in this area that boast industry-first features and capabilities.
Having positioned automotive as one of the focus areas of its image sensor business, at CES 2018, Sony is showcasing further breakthroughs in this field: advances in image sensor technology that give vehicles evolved vision as society moves towards the advent of fully autonomous driving. Demonstrations of how the sensors detect their 360-degree surroundings, even under backlit or unlit conditions, and help vehicles quickly evade danger will be shown at the show. Additionally, visitors can experience how wide-angles, telescopic zoom, high speed and high sensitivity images captured with the advanced image sensors differ from what they actually see with their own eyes.
With the goal of developing image sensors that surpass the human eye, Sony is committed to continually improving image sensor performance in areas such as sensitivity in unlit areas, resolution for telescopic and wide-angle photography, as well as dynamic range performance in backlit environments. Through such initiatives, Sony aims to realize the recognition of a surrounding environment, even in driving conditions where the human eye would struggle to see.
Some of Sony’s Major Accomplishments in Image Sensor Domain:
Commercialization of World's Highest Sensitivity CMOS Image Sensor for Automotive Cameras (October, 2014)
Sony announced the commercialization of the IMX224MQV CMOS image sensor for automotive cameras, which boasts the world's highest sensitivity levels. This sensor is capable of capturing high-resolution color images even in light conditions as low as 0.005 lux, which is even darker than a star-filled night sky. It allows the quick and effective detection of obstacles and people in parking lots, on dark nights, and in other situations that would challenge the naked eye. Mass production and shipment commenced in May 2016. Know more.
Acquisition of Softkinetic Systems S.A. (October, 2015)
Sony acquired Belgium-based company, Softkinetic Systems, which possesses time-of-flight (ToF) image sensor technology for distance detection. Combining the technological expertise of both companies, Sony is developing its future solutions for the areas such as smartphone, robotics, and automotive. ToF image sensors are already being applied in the automotive field to enable gesture control, and going forward they will be used for an ever-increasing range of applications crucial to the realization of advanced autonomous driving. These include the development of HMI (Human Machine Interfaces) that can track the status of drivers and passengers. From December 2017, the company name was changed to Sony Depthsensing Solutions Holding. Know more.
Commercialization of Industry's First High-Sensitivity CMOS Image Sensor for Automotive Cameras, Delivering Simultaneous LED Flicker Mitigation and High-Quality HDR Shooting (April, 2017)
The Sony IMX390CQV is equipped with an LED flicker mitigation function that reduces flickering when shooting LED signs and traffic signals, as well as an HDR function capable of 120dB wide dynamic range shooting, and made it possible to do both simultaneously. It is capable of accurately recognizing traffic signs with LED and adjacent vehicles' LED lamps while capturing high-quality images with a wide dynamic range, even in situations with a wide contrast gap, such as when entering or exiting tunnels during daylight hours. The product is ready for use in forward-sensing cameras and cameras for Camera Monitoring System (CMS), an application expected to grow as a substitute for conventional rearview mirrors, and expected to show persons and obstacles on an in-car monitor with clear visibility. Sample shipment began in May 2017. Know More.
Industry's Highest Resolution 7.42 Effective Megapixel Stacked CMOS Image Sensor for Automotive Cameras (October, 2017)
Sony released the IMX324 CMOS image sensor equipped with the industry's highest resolution 7.42 effective megapixels for forward-sensing cameras in advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Sample shipment began in November 2017. This image sensor is capable of high-definition image capture of distant road signs up to approximately 160 meters ahead. Furthermore, this image sensor is expected to be compatible with the "EyeQ 4" and "EyeQ 5" image processors currently being developed by Mobileye, an Intel Company, for use in ADAS and autonomous vehicle technology. Know more.
And at CES 2018, Sony has introduced its "Safety Cocoon" concept, which signifies the creation of an area of enhanced safety around a vehicle where it can monitor and detect the 360 degree surroundings and prepare for danger avoidance from an early stage in a variety of driving situations. By evolving cars' "eyes" through image sensor-based viewing and sensing, Sony aims to contribute to quickly enabling a higher level of safety and to advance the realization of autonomous driving in society.