Israeli startup makes shortwave infrared cameras affordable for the autonomous vehicle market, potentially boosting road safety significantly.
When a self-driving Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona in 2018, it marked the first time autonomous vehicle technology was involved in a fatality and set off warning bells across the nascent industry.
Industry insiders and concerned legislators asked: Are self-driving cars ready to be tested on real streets? How can the technology be improved to avoid devastating collisions?
Self-driving cars “see” through a variety of high-tech cameras and sensors attached to the vehicle. However, even the best cameras can be tripped up in dark or inclement conditions.
Israeli startup TriEye is bringing to the consumer car market a dashboard-mounted SWIR (shortwave infrared) camera that can successfully navigate through snow, fog, dust and rain.
SWIR cameras have been around for several decades, deployed primarily in the military. “But they were too expensive to be used in mass-market applications,” tells TriEye’s VP of product and business development.
TriEye’s technology is based on 10 years of research conducted by Prof. Uriel Levy, head of the Nano-photonic lab in the department of applied physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Levy had been looking for ways to bring the price of SWIR cameras down by getting them to work using CMOS semiconductors. Those are the kinds of silicon chips used by most digital cameras today, rather than the much more expensive semiconductor technology – it is called InGaAs – powering most SWIR cameras.
The white cardboard test
The company is starting with a focus on the automotive industry, but its technology could work in other areas, including industrial, security and optical inspection. SWIR cameras can see things you cannot with your own eyes, even in bad weather or with obstructions.
TriEye showed a demo of its technology at the recent Ecomotion smart mobility conference in Tel Aviv. A SWIR camera and a regular store-bought camera were set up to focus on a toy car. The images from both cameras were projected on screens above the demonstration. A piece of thick white cardboard was then placed in front of the cameras. The regular camera went blank, but the SWIR camera still showed the car – a little blurry but clearly visible.
TriEye pairs the high resolution of its SWIR camera with artificial intelligence algorithms.
“The AI can easily understand whether it’s seeing a car, a truck or a pedestrian,” Livne says. “We don’t have to drive around and collect millions of images in order to re-annotate them.”
Cameras for autonomous vehicles have become something of a cottage industry in Israel. There is Innoviz, Oryx Vision, Autotalks, Vayyar and Mobileye.
Nevertheless, what makes TriEye better than the competition?
Livne comments, “For the problem we’re solving – the low-visibility challenge – the sensors we have today don’t get enough resolution and contrast and understanding of the scene to make reliable driving decisions.” “We like to wake up in the morning and feel like we’re actually saving lives,” he says. The company aims to release its product to the market by 2020.
Interested officials may connect with the Economic and Trade Department at the Consulate General of the State of Israel to South India, Bengaluru.
For further queries, contact:
Ms. Veshala Gajaraj, Trade Officer in Bengaluru.
Phone: +91-80-4940 6517