AsianScientist (Feb. 23, 2017) – Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed an ultrafast high-contrast camera that could help self-driving cars and drones see better in extreme road conditions and in bad weather.
Unlike typical optical cameras, which can be blinded by bright light and unable to make out details in the dark, NTU’s new smart camera can record the slightest movements and objects in real time. Developed by Assistant Professor Chen Shoushun from NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the new camera named Celex® is now in its final prototype phase.
Instead of capturing and processing vast amounts of information from the millions of pixels typically used by normal camera sensors, Celex® records the changes in light intensity at each individual pixel, reducing the data output. This avoids the needs to capture the whole scene like a photograph, thus increasing the camera’s processing speed.
The camera sensor also has a built-in processor that can analyse the flow of data instantly to differentiate between the foreground objects and the background, also known as optical flow computation. This innovation allows self-driving vehicles more time to react to any oncoming vehicles or obstacles.
“Our new camera can be a great safety tool for autonomous vehicles, since it can see very far ahead like optical cameras but without the time lag needed to analyse and process the video feed,” explained Chen.
“With its continuous tracking feature and instant analysis of a scene, it complements existing optical and laser cameras and can help self-driving vehicles and drones avoid unexpected collisions that usually happens within seconds.”
With keen interest from the industry, Asst Prof Chen and his researchers have spun off a start-up company named Hillhouse Tech to commercialize the new camera technology. The start-up is incubated by NTUitive, NTU’s innovation and enterprise company.
Chen expects that the new camera will be commercially ready by the end of this year, as Hillhouse Tech is already in talks with global electronic manufacturers.
Source: Nanyang Technological University.
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