Noting that multiple technologies are needed for ADAS, Duncan said that ST's vision is putting the "camera at its heart" for ADAS. More specifically, he asked, if a car must have a camera anyway, why not include in vision sensors some of the functions that radar/lidar are good at? "It can save cost for carmakers."
Black-and-white image sensor capable of seeing red
ST has been working with Jerusalem-based Mobileye, a technology developer of ADAS, for some time. The two companies jointly developed a vision-processor SoC, using Mobileye's collision-avoidance systems based on advanced artificial vision technology. The ST-Mobileye device is known to have been designed into BMW, General Motors, Volvo, Ford, and other cars.
ST has been also working on a new black-and-white image sensor, designed for frontal cameras in cars and used for a collision-avoidance system, according to Duncan. The normally black-and-white image sensor is designed to also recognize red. When asked why red, Duncan said, "Red indicates a lot of important information -- such as red traffic light, red road signs, brake lights, and tail lights."
While ST is not announcing its technical details or availability as a product, Duncan implied that much of the development work is already done.
Compressed or uncompressed?
Asked if any of the video streams captured by cameras equipped in cars are compressed, Duncan replied, "For the frontal camera, no. The video stream is not compressed."
But when it comes to surround-view cameras that afford the driver a 360° image surrounding the vehicle, the video stream is compressed. "Otherwise, it's impossible to handle such a large amount of data." Current vehicles are typically using Motion JPEG, he explained. But, he added, they'll be moving to a newer compression standard such as H.264 for next-generation cars.