driver assistance: seeing, recognising
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
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
That's why "Night Vision"
is being succeeded by "Night Vision Plus",
a technology that will be ready for series production
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
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
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.