What Goes into Building the World's First AV & ADAS GatedVision System?

We Interviewed Daniel Kriger, VP of R&D, to get a behind-the-scenes look at what sets the GatedVision system apart from all other solutions.

Bright Way Vision’s GatedVision imaging system can do what other vision systems do not -  provide a clear image in all weather and lighting conditions. GatedVision technology returns a crystal-clear black-and-white image captured in a single wavelength. Capturing this image requires specialized technology specifically designed to develop and generate high-contrast, unified, illuminated scenes. Each key component of the systems and sub-systems that make up the GatedVision solution must be carefully calibrated to provide its advanced features. This includes giving it access to the data it needs to enhance the image it provides to ADAS and AV systems.

Working with so many complex criteria, including balancing the system’s physics, capabilities, and mode of operation, requires a lengthy and often challenging development process. To get a look behind the scenes and see what went into creating the GatedVision, we sat down with Daniel Kriger, Bright Way Vision’s VP of R&D.

What were the main challenges of designing a gated imaging camera system?

While designing such a complex system was far from simple, our challenges can be broken down into three main categories:

  1. Defining and designing the sensor

One of the first challenges we had to contend with was designing a sensor that could meet specific parameters. The sensor needed to be able to capture slices of the scene within a pre-defined range. Developing a sensor capable of doing so thousands of times per frame meant the development team needed to understand the sensor pixel structure. We wanted to ensure we could create a technology capable of capturing a high-contrast, uniform, illuminated scene. These parameters impact the system’s ability to work in adverse weather and enhance object detection day and night, both of which are features unique to the GatedVision system and critical to its functioning. Understanding how these parameters affect each other, the overall system design, and other components and subsystems allows us to balance the sensor requirements with the overall system requirements and design complexity and use this knowledge to create a viable product.

  1. Building the hardware and ISP (in-system programming) solution

The second challenge we faced was building the hardware and ISP solutions. The gated image ISP needed to be adjusted to allow the system to synchronize the sensor and the illuminator, allowing both to work in the desired mode while producing the brightest and clearest image, regardless of the time of day or weather conditions at up to 120 frames per second. These ISP features add value to GatedVision’s already advanced night vision capabilities and give the system the ability to indicate other potentially dangerous environmental hazards, such as rain, snow, fog, and slippery roads. We also included an additional mode of operation to address tunnel entry and exit. Developing a lean software and hardware stack that could meet these requirements while building a cost-effective product was a challenge we at Bright Way Vision have mastered over the last three years. 

  1. Defining, Developing, and designing the illumination unit

The third challenge we faced was developing the system’s illumination unit. The illumination unit needed to be synced with and managed by the camera hardware and ISP. Additionally, the illuminator technology is based on a vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) device that generates the required illumination power. This meant that we needed to develop a high-power VCSEL device that could pulse thousands of times per frame while being driven by a sophisticated laser driver. A consistent pulse would enable the ISP to generate any type of illumination profile, including light modulation to enhance objects' shadow, allowing the ISP to easily detect obstacles. Balancing the power, heat dissipation, eye safety, and size were just a few of the challenges we’ve found solutions for at Bright Way Vision. 

How is GatedVision preparing to meet the automotive industry’s standards?

Our goal of meeting the automotive industry’s highest standards was accomplished by following these steps:

  1. Our key components, namely the CMOS sensor and the VCSEL, have been designed to comply with industry standards from the earliest design phase. We take compliance extremely seriously, particularly regarding reliability and safety. From the beginning, our products were designed in accordance with the relevant AECQ 100 or 102 and ISO26262 standards.
  2. The second pillar of our activities relates to our hardware and software development. To ensure we continue to meet the industry’s highest standards at this stage, we work with all the tools and latest standard processes, guaranteeing traceability and that our work is easily tracked at every stage of the process. Additionally, we have a variety of certifications, including ISO9001.
  3. The third way we adjust our work process to meet industry standards relates to the software development we do at Bright Way Vision. Our software development process is conducted entirely in accordance with ASPICE standards, which includes using the latest code-proofing tools. We also code in compliance with the MISRA code and safety standards.

How does the GatedVision system work when compared to machine vision?

GatedVision includes advanced features that are beyond machine vision’s capabilities. Obstacle detection based on machine vision has its limits in real-life scenarios. For example, machine vision can’t provide clear images in low lighting or harsh weather conditions and requires intense training before it can detect any obstacles at all. The industry has been searching for a new solution and a better way to detect obstacles in the vehicle’s surroundings. Bright Way Vision’s GatedVision system is a training-free obstacle detection perception package that can detect any obstacles on the road. This new approach can detect reflective and non-reflective objects by utilizing advantages unique to gated imaging technology, such as light modulation, shadow detection (enhancing the shadow of an obstacle to make it more visible), and depth mapping. GatedVision’s obstacle detection feature enables the detection of objects and potholes while providing a distance estimation. 

Aside from providing perfect images in any weather condition, detecting reflective objects, and providing distance estimates, gated imaging technology can also range the image using the inherent slice feature of the gated technology. By providing a slice image, the system can instantly range the scene and focus the processing algorithm on one specific region of interest in the area or on the road. By utilizing slicing techniques, the gated imaging camera system can provide high-quality images and an accurate depth map in any weather, day or night. The resulting image stream can be fed into any machine vision processing pipe and used in conjunction with detection algorithms with minimal effort and adjustments.

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