Reading electronic highway signs easier for autonomous vehicles

Sony has developed a CMOS image sensor that will allow stand-alone vehicles to properly read electronic road signs. The combination of anti-flicker and HDR enhances vision when the vehicle passes from a dark area, such as a tunnel, into daylight. Thus, thanks to its anti-flickering capabilities, the Sony IMX390 sensor can clearly see the LED road signs. These panels are often used to indicate temporary situations on a route or to announce different speed limits. It is therefore important that autonomous vehicles know how to recognize and read them. With a standard sensor, the LED panels are perceived with a strong flicker or captured with a strobe effect because of the difference in frequency between the scanning of the sensor and the light of the road sign. A similar phenomenon can be observed when filming a television screen with a conventional camera.



The Sony sensor also features an HDR (Large Dynamic Range) function that allows you to see more detail in situations where contrast is high, for example when a vehicle enters and exits a tunnel on a sunny day. In general, a conventional image sensor can either see the outside of the tunnel, the interior appearing black, or the reverse, that is to say that it sees the inside of the tunnel, but the outside Is all white. The HDR function helps to balance the strong contrast effect so that the two environments are also visible to each other. This ability to see in very contrasting light situations is important for unmanned vehicles because they must be able to anticipate their journey in all circumstances.

Current availability May 2017

In a video, Sony showed the differences in behavior between its new sensor and a conventional sensor. HDR and anti-flicker technologies are not new, but they have never been combined on the same sensor and developers had to choose to implement one or the other or use two separate cameras. The Sony IMX390 sensor now combines both technologies. The Japanese electronics giant is a world leader in image sensors. The sensors produced by Sony equip the cameras and cameras of the manufacturer, but also those of some competitors. The delivery of the new image sensor samples will begin this month.


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