|360-degree surround detection optimally detects the entire vehicle surrounding and helps to safely master complex traffic situations. Source: Continental. Click to enlarge.|
International automotive supplier Continental has acquired ASL Vision, a provider of embedded video image processing and transmission solutions based in Lewes, England. ASL has developed the ASL360 Surround View camera system—a multi-camera system that processes video from multiple ultra-wide-angle cameras in a single, high performance Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The companies agreed not to disclose the price for the acquisition.
With the acquisition, Continental is adding “a strategically important building block”, 360-degree surround detection, while at the same time further developing its competence in the camera sector in a targeted way, said Friedrich Angerbauer, Head of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Business Unit in the Continental Chassis & Safety Division. Continental is a leading suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems; the development of products and systems for automated driving is one of the central themes of its long-term technology strategy. (Earlier post.)
“Surround view” systems optimally detect the entire vehicle surrounding, and will serve as an addition to the ContiGuard safety concept. ContiGuard integrates active and passive safety systems, which are becoming more effective and comprehensive through surrounding sensors and their coordinated interactions.
In particular, the fusion of radar and camera will allow new and expanded features, and it is an important prerequisite for implementing automated driving.
By acquiring ASL Vision, we are accelerating the existing growth activities in the area of advanced driver assistance systems. “Surround view” will also allow us to safely master complex traffic situations such as lane changes, passing other cars and challenging parking circumstances.—Dr. Ralf Cramer, Member of the Board of Continental AG and President of the Continental Chassis & Safety Division
As a general rule, a surround-view system consists of three to five cameras as well as an electronic processing unit. ASL Vision offers a range of technological solutions.
One is a camera system like those already available in the passenger vehicle sector, with a display feature for the camera images on the dashboard, that is overlaid with intelligent displays such as the vehicle trajectory display when driving backward. ASL Vision also has a successful system that was developed especially for the aftermarket and is already in use in the industrial sector and in mining, for instance.
The industrial market ASL360 offers the operator a bird’s eye real-time view of the vehicle and its surroundings. The ASL360 surround view system synthesizes a bird’s eye image of the vehicle using multiple ultra-wide-angle cameras mounted on the front, sides and rear of the vehicle. Ordinarily, the fisheye distortion renders the views from such cameras unusable, but ASL360 deploys advanced signal processing to produce usable geometry.
In the future, Continental will work on and further develop intelligent surround view systems with features such as free-space and object recognition, as well as reading curb edges for highly precise parking.
All 53 ASL Vision employees from the headquarters in Lewes, England, as well at its German site in Kronach, Bavaria, will join Continental, and the company is planning to add further engineers both in England and Germany for these technology areas.
The Lewes site will combine the competences in the areas of systems, software and algorithms for surround view. At the same time, the research and development center in Ulm will become an additional site for 360-degree camera systems. In the future, the site will work on issues such as hardware, cameras and application projects.