TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan -- Continental AG says it will launch production of a pedestrian detection system early next year for an unnamed German automaker that will introduce it on a global vehicle.
The system uses stereo cameras to detect pedestrians and other obstacles on the road in city driving, says Christian Schumacher, Continental's North American director of engineering systems.
The system will be integrated with a radar-based collision avoidance system, Schumacher said. But it can also be deployed as a stand-alone collision avoidance system.
Stereo cameras are considered ideal for pedestrian detection because they can detect an object's outlines with more precision than radar. This makes it easier for the computer's algorithms to determine whether the object is a person.
Cameras also detect small objects -- such as a child -- more easily than radar.
Continental's stereo cameras can identify the exact position of obstacles with great precision up to 35 or 40 meters away -- an ideal range for low-speed driving on city streets or neighborhood roads.
The cameras can detect obstacles up to 100 meters (109 yards) away, but cannot pinpoint the exact locations of obstacles at that distance.
Volvo Cars was the first automaker to introduce a pedestrian detection system in 2010.
Over the next five years or so, pedestrian detection will spread rapidly in Europe as automakers hustle to meet new Euro NCAP safety standards that rate vehicles according to their ability to prevent injury to pedestrians.
Schumacher predicts that pedestrian detection systems will spread rapidly. "If you want a five-star rating [in Europe], you'll have to [introduce] it in the next three or four years," Schumacher said.
Such systems will spread to North America as automakers design such systems for global vehicles. And since the cost of camera sensors has fallen to $100 or so, pedestrian detection will expand beyond the luxury segment, Schumacher predicted.
"Cost is a factor, but it's coming down," he said. "Our intention is to phase it into all segments."