has developed a stereo camera system to help cut down on the number of serious injuries and deaths related to people being hit by cars. According to Continental, in Germany, nearly half of all accidents that cause injury or death involve pedestrians.

Continental's system utilizes two high-resolution cameras working in stereo to detect pedestrians the driver might miss. If the system detects someone stepping in front of you, it automatically performs an emergency stop. The stereo camera not only detects pedestrians, but can determine how far away they are, and how tall they are. Single cameras can see the person, but can't accurately estimate their distance from the car or height.

If sudden braking isn't an option, or the pedestrian is too close for braking to be effective, the system can look within its field of vision to find a course of evasive action. The system is still in development, but the ability to accurately and reliably detect pedestrians pushes it that much closer to production. Read the full press release from Continental after the jump.
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The stereo camera reliably recognizes pedestrians and crossing traffic

Frankfurt am Main. Continental, the international automotive supplier, will add a stereo camera to the comprehensive ContiGuard® safety system as an integral element of its forward looking braking systems. This will help prevent or at least reduce the seriousness of the frequent accidents involving pedestrians or with vehicles at intersections; to date, accidents like these make up almost half (46.6 percent) of those traffic accidents in Germany that result in major personal injury. "What is expected of our accident prevention and avoidance systems is that, instead of prioritizing obstacles, they should be able to help in every hazardous situation. This means that we must look for new ways of monitoring a vehicle's surroundings", said Dr. Andreas Brand, Head of Passive Safety & ADAS Business Unit at Continental's Chassis & Safety Division. Since the stereo camera has two 'eyes', it is able to use the difference in the images within one camera shot to detect every type of obstacle, from loads that have fallen onto the road to people and animals, and can determine their size and the distance to them. This cannot be done sufficiently reliably with mono-cameras, which also have to be taught to recognize a car or a motorcycle and which are then only able to identify objects that they have learned.

"Since the stereo camera also realizes the already familiar assistance systems, such as Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, and Intelligent Headlamp Control, we think that it will set a new trend in the medium to long term and will be available for all vehicle categories, from compact cars to premium vehicles", added Brand.

Two cameras and full image analysis within a single unit
The stereo camera consists of two high-resolution CMOS mono-cameras, housed approximately 20 centimeters apart behind the windshield. Whereas a mono-camera only estimates distances, the stereo camera measures the distance to an object and its height from the road surface. This is made possible by the differences in the perspective between the left-hand and the right-hand optical paths. In other words, the stereo camera's analyzing electronics exploit the same effect that gives humans spatial vision, i.e. the parallax shift between two images. At medium distances of 20 to 30 meters, the stereo camera can determine the range to the object with an accuracy of between 20 and 30 centimeters. The stereo camera retains its high resolution capability even under difficult circumstances in which other technologies for object recognition might well reach their limits; for example, when several objects are in close proximity to each other, when objects are partially obscured, or when there is poor contrast between the object and its background. The fundamental strength of the stereo camera is its ability to compare the two optical paths because the redundant information obtained when both images contain identical zones with matching characteristics enhances the reliability of the data. In addition, the optical paths support each other in poor visibility, at dusk for example, so that they function better.

Safety through six-dimensional analysis
In addition to the spatial position (3-D) of any object that it detects, the stereo camera provides particularly crucial supplementary data for the active driving safety systems. It can determine the direction in which every pixel of an identified object is moving along the horizontal, vertical, and longitudinal axes. This six-dimensional (6-D) identification makes absolutely clear whether an object is moving and in which direction. Combined with object classification, based on common characteristics, this process invests the stereo camera with such a high standard of decision-making certainty that it is able to initiate emergency braking (up to 1 g) if the driver fails to react to the object. The accuracy of the system enables the stereo camera to calculate the precise point of impact of a potential collision and to make the best possible use of the remaining time to prepare appropriate protective measures. The stereo camera functions through the whole speed range.

Since the stereo camera can also identify potential ways, within its field of vision, in which the vehicle could take evasive action, other options are for a collision warning to be issued or for automatic braking to be applied earlier if no evasive maneuver is possible. The advantage of this is that a few hundred milliseconds are sufficient for an emergency stop to make the difference between sustaining bruises and suffering far more severe injuries. With its range of up to 60 meters, the stereo camera provides the best possible basis for developing braking systems that are truly looking-ahead.

"In the future, the stereo camera will even be able to detect children, who are small pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchair users crossing the road. We are, in fact, realizing a comprehensive obstacle recognition system, the like of which has never before been possible", said Wilfried Mehr, Head of Business Development for advanced driver assistance systems.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      "it automatically performs an emergency stop" I thought this sounded great until I read that sentence. I'm all for technology helping me spot danger, but I don't want it to attempt to drive the car for me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ace Convoy
      • 4 Years Ago
      We couldn't' need these if people used crosswalks and looked both ways before they crossed... I believe you can't pass preschool without knowing that nowadays.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A large part of the problem is that, as a pedestrian you are told that you have the right of way. I have seen countless times a pedestrian try to cross a busy road with no way in hell of making it safely,so they end up holding traffic while they try to cross. People on foot,blades,boards,bikes need to LOOK where they are going. I have seen a few peds almost walk into vehicles (1 being waste truck) that were making a right turn when all clear,just to have a ped on the cell almost walk right into them. Education or lack thereof is the problem,and people's own self entitlement. Goes for peds and drivers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      a lot of people are going to be rear ended
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would be incredibly angry if my car performed an emergency stop without my command just because somebody stepped to the edge of my lane to better see who was coming. The system better be damn sure that I'm going to hit that guy before it intervenes. And does it push in the clutch for you too? Or is it designed to leave you sitting with a dead engine in the middle of traffic?
      LUSTSTANG S-197
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have a genius idea that will not only save car buyers lots of money, but will save a few human lives as well. We tell pedestrians to look both ways before crossing a street, and use designated crossways. We also encourage drivers to put down the cell phones/whatever other gadget and pay attention to the road.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd like to second the question about how this differs from Volvo's Pedestrian Detection product - at least in the detection phase. I do know that the Volvo system does warn you first in the case of a stupid pedestrian/ inattentive driver and will perform a full auto stop if a collision is imminent. That part doesn't bother me as, like it or not, it's better to avoid an irresponsible pedestrian than to mow them down. What does bother me about the system described above is the "evasive action" component. Volvo's systems only work absent of driver input - they are truly supplimental (Yup, I sell 'em - can ya tell?). The idea that the car might actually drive itself in such a situation seems a bit much to me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Heres a brighter idea. Before you walk onto a street , look both ways.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why does the car owner get burdened with this expense? He doesn't get hurt. It is the road kill that gets the benefit so why doesn't he carry the burden? I expect that there is ample technology that will identify objects of substantial mass speeding towards the pedestrian. Once the oncoming vehicle is identified it would issue a short warning beep for the pedestrian to backup and if ignored it could Tase the recipient to retard their progress and fire a flash bulb to warn oncoming traffic. Those failing to carry one of the devices would by default be identified as reckless or suicidal. A brief look at the cost benefit trade offs for devices such as these gives straightforward answers. As it is traffic deaths in the US are at an all time low by absolute numbers and and radically reduced if viewed on a death per X miles driven. The offer at hand is to spend billions of dollars to save a few lives. There are many other opportunities to save far more lives and spend a fraction of the money. How many of us have hit a pedestrian? Not many I bet. How much more would you pay to reduce that chance by75%? Sort of a foolish question isn't it? I expect that European drunk driving laws in the US would save more lives than this concept would ever do at no cost to vehicle owners. A bigger question is why does Autoblog carry this drivel? Just because a press release gets issued does not mean that every recipient has to report it. I expect Autoblog to be more discerning in what to report.