TodayApril 15, 2022

Are you a Passenger or Driver? ZF knows

I use WAZE in my car when I’m trying to find the fastest way to get somewhere. If there is traffic ahead it will redirect me to the fastest route. I used it last week when I was in Rome, Italy and saw the traffic on A91 backing up. The app can tell when I am in my car and will ask me, are you the passenger or driver? ZF has Developed a Three-Dimensional Interior Observation System for Advanced Occupant and Interior Sensing that answers that question for the car.

Interior sensing important for accurate occupant and object detection and classification for front and rear seat occupants

Provides real-time inputs for advanced safety systems and automated driving vehicles, such as determining if the driver is able to retake control quickly in an emergency

Helps sense driver distraction to allow onboard systems to issue alerts

Friedrichshafen, Germany / Livonia, Mich. – ZF is developing a three-dimensional Interior Observation System (IOS) capable of detecting and classifying vehicle occupants, determining their size, location and position, and whether or not they are in active control of the vehicle via the steering wheel or monitoring the automated driving systems – all key data to assist with advanced safety and automated driving functions.

While ZF is well-known as a world leader in the production of forward-facing object recognition cameras that sense the external vehicle environment, the company has also been involved in the development of interior observation cameras for more than ten years. Due to the trend toward advanced safety and vehicle automation, interest in interior camera technology has intensified and ZF is now developing a 3D camera interior observation system supporting a broad variety of potential safety, comfort, and AD applications.

A prime example is occupant position sensing. Seat-mounted sensors are already used to determine whether airbag and seat belt pre-tensioners should be deployed and at what force and a 3D IOS camera can augment this information regarding the size and real-time position and posture of occupants, including out-of-position detection such as reclined seats – all information that can help tailor occupant energy management prior or in the event of a crash. Just knowing if an occupant or other object is present in a seating position can help determine if and with which adaptive occupant safety functions to deploy in that position. The camera can complement existing seatbelt buckle sensors with visual verification if the occupant is properly belted, and give guidance to do so with a reminder or other action if this is not the case.

Occupant sensing can also be extremely valuable in situations where small children may be left in the car – leading to emergency situations particularly in extreme temperatures – the IOS system can be calibrated to determine the presence of a child and activate emergency actions such as an automatic call to the vehicle owners mobile phone, lowering automatic call to the vehicle owners mobile phone, lowering electric windows and opening a moonroof to reduce interior temperatures, activation of the horn and emergency flashers so others nearby can assist, or a call to emergency providers such as OEM emergency service providers or local police and first responders to assist in rescuing the child.

As vehicles become increasingly equipped with automated functions, intelligently networked interior sensors can determine if the driver’s hands are on the steering wheel and are in active control of the vehicle and if the driver’s head is facing the road and monitoring the vehicle while making proper use of the seatbelt system. The system can indicate that the driver is in an automated mode and when a potential emergency situation is detected can trigger alerts.

“The bottom line is that visual data from the interior of the vehicle can be highly valuable from many standpoints,” said Norbert Kagerer, senior vice president, engineering for the occupant safety systems business.

“The development of our 3D interior observation system leads to enhanced safety, convenience and helps support the evolution toward automated vehicles.

The IOS system is expected to be production ready by late 2021.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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