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Preparing Night Vision Plus for 2008
Bosch in-car video cameras
Believe that seeing is... recognising

Bosch driver assistance systems: seeing, recognising and reacting.

Bosch driver assistance: seeing, recognising and reacting.

16 November 2007.

Usually, seeing is believing. But matters can be slightly different for our cars. According to Bosch, it looks like seeing is... recognising, and even more: reacting.

With the introduction of an in-car video camera, Bosch is opening up new areas of application for driver assistance systems. Describing the development work involved, Dr. Bernd-Josef Schäfer, vice-president of the driver assistance systems business unit at Bosch, says: "As each new functional enhancement appears, the car is gradually learning to see."

You see! The car is also learning the same thing. To see.

Bosch laid the foundation for this development with the Night Vision system for the Mercedes-Benz S class. The German luxury automaker has been offering the Bosch system as an optional feature since the end of 2005, and the CL class is now also equipped with this night vision system.

Seeing is the first function of the night vision system. Infrared high-beam headlights illuminate an area of more than 150 meters in front of the vehicle.

It is worth mentioning that the beam is invisible to the human eye and therefore does not blind oncoming traffic. But the infrared image is picked up by the video camera, whose high-performance electronics convert the signals into an image which is visible to the human eye, on the central display. Here, drivers can identify dangerous situations more quickly, giving them more time to react.

If function one is seeing, Bosch experts call function two: recognising.

This incorporates functions that give the driver even more information. The role of driver assistance systems is to recognise defined characteristics and give the driver information about them.

That's why "Night Vision" is being succeeded by "Night Vision Plus", a technology that will be ready for series production in 2008.

According to Bosch, this system's signal processing technology is so intelligent that it is able, for example, to use the image data delivered by the video camera to recognise with a high level of reliability whether pedestrians are standing or moving.

This means it can highlight pedestrians in colour on the display, for example, and thus draw the driver's attention to them.

Bosch road-sign recognition is a further example of video-based driver assistance functions. Here, too, the electronics systems can pick out and recognise pre-defined road signs such as speed restrictions, "no overtaking" signs, etc. from the video image. The system then displays the road signs it has recognised and reminds the driver to respect them.

Seeing, recognising and... reacting. In a further stage of the development of video-based driver assistance systems, the technology can process spatial information.

To achieve this, Bosch experts make use of "sensor data fusion" – merging either the signals from the video camera and radar sensor or those from two video cameras.

The resulting spatial image is the basis that allows the highly complex electronics not only to recognise familiar critical situations but also to analyse them independently. It can even recognise critical situations that have not already been predefined by the developers.

Bosch is using this technology to develop the Predictive Emergency Brake (PEB). If PEB recognises that the driver is failing to react to an unavoidable impact with an obstacle, the system will automatically apply the brakes and minimise the severity of the consequences.

Bosch says that video-based functions are part of a whole range of driver assistance systems that it has launched or will have ready for series production in the next few years.

With the growing traffic volume, driver assistance systems increase driver comfort and safety while helping reduce congestions through intelligent management of traffic flows, mainly with satellite navigation systems, and in the not too distant future, with vehicle-to-vehicle communication. They are also instrumental for complying with the EU Commission's "eSafety" program, which aims to halve the number of road deaths between 2000 and 2010.

The Bosch Group, which was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as a “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering”, counts today some 260,000 associates who generated sales of 43.7 billion euros in fiscal 2006. It spends more than three billion euros each year for research and development, and in 2006 applied for over 3,000 patents worldwide.

The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH makes it possible for the company to plan over the long term, as ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust.

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