Independent tests performed under the DENSE European Research project evaluated the performance of various optical sensing technologies, including visual cameras, thermal imagers, LiDARs, and SWIR under adverse weather conditions.
The project team concluded that Bright Way Vision’s GatedVision all-weather automotive camera is the only one that could see all the tested targets, through dense fog and throughout the entire range tested.
All other sensors were found to be limited to approximately half the range and were limited in the types of objects they could detect, making them insufficiently reliable for autonomous driving and ADAS.
The report, "Benchmarking Image Sensors Under Adverse Weather Conditions for Autonomous Driving", stated:
"This evaluation confirms with actual numbers how standard cameras suffer in adverse weather. The main disadvantage of standard cameras is the loss of contrast due to air-light and attenuation. This loss of contrast was investigated for two fog droplet distributions which correspond to advection and radiation fog. Within the error bars the loss of contrast is similar for both types. In conclusion, fog degenerates edges within images and strong disturbances appear, which leads to the failure of state-of-the-art algorithms, e.g. for object detection. In contrast, the gated camera shows much better contrast and higher viewing distances can be perceived."
In summary today, ADAS systems and AV vision technologies are great – during the day when it’s sunny outside, representing only 35% of the days of the year. However, they are pretty blind when it comes to night and in adverse weather conditions - 65% of the year, not to mention when night and adverse weather occur at the same time.
An AAA report published October 2019 examined automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection states that "all evaluated systems were ineffective during nighttime conditions."
AutoSens hosted numerous automotive and safety experts in its virtual event September 2020, and experts concluded: vehicles simply aren’t safe today at night or in adverse weather with low visibility.