Clarion Co., Ltd. (President & CEO: Atsushi Kawabata / hereinafter “Clarion”) has developed a Multi Camera Washing System for automotive cameras used as sensors in autonomous vehicles. This system automatically washes away dirt on each camera with a mist that is a mixture of air and fluid.
This Multi Camera Washing System combines Clarion’s unique technology to detect dirt on cameras with the washing control technology of the air supply device, washing fluid supply device and solenoid valves. The technology to detect dirt by camera comes from an expansion of the technology that conventionally washed one camera. Clarion has developed a new camera ECU that includes the function to detect dirt on multiple cameras as images. The washing control technology controls the air supply device, washing fluid supply device and solenoid valves in the pump ECU according to the dirt condition detected for each camera. It then runs the optimal washing mode for each camera.
The washing flow of the Multi Camera Washing System is as follows:
(1) The camera ECU detects dirt on the lens surface for each camera with the image processing function and then notifies the pump ECU.
(2) If the received dirt level exceeds certain threshold, the pump ECU washes the applicable camera with the optimal mode. The current system is designed to wash camera lenses. However, we plan to expand the system to wash other sensors such as laser radars (LIDAR) in the future.
Many sensors are mounted on the exterior of vehicles in autonomous driving systems. In particular, dirt on the surface from rain, mud and insects affects the detection performance of cameras and LIDAR – the optical sensors. This Multi Camera Washing System supports the improvement in the continuity of autonomous driving. This system also enables reduce the consumption of fluid comparing with the ordinary washing system. It provides a convenience for drivers by reducing the effort to refill the washing fluid.
Clarion has commercialised a one camera washing system through joint development with a car manufacturer in Japan in the past. The company has now developed multiple camera washing based on this technology.
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