Taking on Sensorfication – one Advanced Driver Assistance System at a time
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are one of the fastest growing technologies in automotive electronics. A major focus of car manufacturers today is ‘sensorfication’ – utilizing a number of optical sensors (cameras, Lidars, infrared cameras) on the vehicle to achieve higher levels of ADAS for enhanced safety and efficiency on roads and highways.
One of the biggest challenges of sensorfication is that these ADAS systems rely on optical sensors such as cameras and Lidars, that can fail or “go blind” when contaminants, such as rain or mud, are on the sensor lens.
This means poor weather conditions can cause the visual data to be inaccurate or insufficient, resulting in the sensor being unable to inform the underlying ADAS system, threatening the commercial potential and the safe operation of these systems. Current ADAS systems are projected to impact 3.59 million total crashes per year, or about 62% of all crashes (National Safety Council), but these systems are already subject to failure in adverse weather conditions. For example, according to a AAA study done in 2018, when testing the efficiency of ADAS lane keeping systems and automatic breaks, 50% of test runs conducted resulted in a collision when tested with simulated rainfall (AAA).
Actasys, a New York based start-up, provides a unique solution to sensor cleaning in the automotive industry that is compact, power-efficient, cost-efficient and effective. Actasys’ technology enables higher levels of assisted driving and safety for automotive OEM’s and Tier-1’s, as well as ensures optical sensor operation under adverse weather conditions through the innovation of its ActaJet™ Sensor Cleaning System. The ActaJet functions through an electronically controlled system of small actuator cartridges that generate jets of air to clean and clear sensors without the need for rotary fans, compressors or pumps. Because it is not mechanical, it is much less complicated to integrate into existing systems that rely on sensors such as vehicles, cameras, robots and others.
Most recently, Actasys partnered with QuantumHub/Hyundai to conduct advanced testing and evaluation of the ActaJet™ Sensor Cleaning System. A KIA was outfitted with camera and Lidar
sensors on the front, roof and tailgate of the car and was tested in various speeds ranging from 20 kph to 90 kphr; with weather elements including mud, rain, dust to road splatter and rain
generated by Actasys’ ‘Rainmaker’ system.
In order to ensure the widespread adoption of ADAS technologies, and have the industry realize its investments in these technologies, the ADAS system needs to be available and at optimal
function across a wide range of weather and operating conditions. ActaJet demonstrated that it can broaden the operating domain of ADAS systems to achieve safer and more efficient
Actasys’ lead commercial programs are based on 90mm actuators for cleaning Lidars and 40mm actuators for cleaning cameras in the automotive sector for ADAS support. However, Actasys goes beyond just providing a product and are supporting its customers with a series of tools and capabilities to understand the scope of sensor data loss due to weather and how to optimize a sensor cleaning solution.
This knowledge enables critical systems to operate and places Actasys in a unique leadership position to lead the development of this new sector. The vision is to utilize and expand upon these capabilities to enable the future potential of vision systems, including real-time calibration of sensor and ADAS systems, utilization of weather information, and generation of data around the sensors that can improve maintenance, use, and optimization. Ultimately for Actasys, cleaning a sensor will be a first step towards ‘sensing the sensors’ – enabling functionality across a wide range of weather conditions, as well as supporting predictive maintenance and calibration capabilities.
The world is replete with sensors. It is why whole industries and market sectors are producing sensors, systems that depend on sensors, or have revised their business models to accommodate ‘sensorfication.’ While these systems are designed to assist drivers on the road, ensuring that they function properly is essential. Through the ActaJet sensor cleaning system, Actasys is making driving safer on the highways for all.