Continental's 360-degree camera system goes next level with 3D

Automotive camera technology has gone from providing low-res, grainy images from a single perspective to practically photo quality from any angle, in just a few years. There's no stopping the march of progress, though, because Continental is already demoing what it thinks is the next evolution of the tech that gives a true birds-eye-view.

The German auto supplier's new system creates a fully 360-degree, 3D view of your vehicle and shows any obstacles surrounding it to aid in parking. While this is similar to Around View Monitor from Nissan, Continental's tech has no blind spots and can actually spin around the car, if necessary. The key to it is four, fisheye cameras that are mounted at the front, rear and in the mirrors to provide a complete perspective. A special processor then stitches them all together into a single image.

Continental's stitching tech should hit the market "fairly soon," according to spokesperson Christian Schumacher in the video. Though, embedding it in the rearview mirror like it is here still isn't quite as realistic. "As for the image stitching technology, we cannot discuss specific timing or potential customer information," said a company spokesperson to Autoblog. The fact that the demo car is a Lincoln MKZ may hint at where we might see this first, though. Check out the video above for a full demo of the future of automotive cameras.
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Continental Monitors the Whole Vehicle Surrounding

• Continental's ASL360, designed specifically for trucks, special and small series vehicles, has already established itself as a way to capture a 360-degree surround detection of what is happening all around a vehicle

• Scalable surround view systems will be able to generate 3D views, recognize objects and support driver assistance functions

Traverse City, Mich., August 4, 2014 - Today's camera systems often monitor only the area in front of a vehicle. Although that helps to prevent many accidents, it is not capable of preventing every single one of them. International automotive supplier Continental has designed a way to capture the whole vehicle surrounding for increased safety and security.

"The next step towards accident-free driving is going to be 360-degree surround detection that monitors not only the area in front of, or behind a vehicle, but also all around it," said Christian Schumacher, head of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Business Unit, Continental North America. "The development of intelligent surround view systems for cars will also represent a major contribution to automated driving."
Last year, Continental acquired British specialist ASL Vision, which was integrated as the 'Surround View' segment into the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Business Unit of the Chassis & Safety Division.

"Continental and ASL Vision are drawing from long years of development in the field of complex vehicle cameras," said Schumacher.

ASL360 – a surround view system conceived for trucks, special and small series vehicles
Solutions by ASL Vision are already doing duty in more than three million vehicles throughout the world. The ASL360, specially developed for trucks, busses and special vehicles such as for mining, has been poised for production for years. The product is also available for cars and does duty primarily in small series vehicles.

The system consists of four fisheye cameras, each of which is capable of capturing more than 185 degree of the horizontal field of view. An electronic control unit (ECU) blends the four views into one image on a display in the cockpit. The display enables drivers to park and maneuver safely at low speeds. Image stitching – the merging and joining of various individual images – permits calculation and display of the vehicle's position from a variety of angles. Images from a single camera are also possible for keeping an eye on critical areas when maneuvering.

Surround view systems will provide 3D views, recognize objects and realize driver assistance functions
ASL360 provides drivers with two-dimensional images. Future surround view systems will be able to furnish 3D views. Additionally, the systems will be able to recognize objects and will be capable of realizing driver assistance functions. Four cameras typically do duty in such systems. Other cameras may be added, depending on the specifications of individual automobile manufacturers. The first 3D surround view system is planned to go into production in 2016.

Several types of scalable systems are in development so that surround view can be offered in different vehicle segments. The basic version, SVS210, offers a pure 360-degree 2D image to assist in parking and maneuvering at low speeds. It employs only two cameras: one in front mounted in the grill and one in the rear mounted near the license plate. This entry-level system is especially suited for use in the compact-car segment due to its attractive pricing. The SVS220 system offers a 3D image with four cameras.

Other levels will be available, all the way up to an intelligent, active surround view system. Consisting of four cameras – in front, in the rear and on the outside rearview mirrors – it can not only monitor the area all around the vehicle but also recognize pedestrians, warn the driver or even stop the vehicle in critical situations. The system is particularly suited to city driving because it is able to recognize nearby pedestrians early. It is also capable of recognizing crossing traffic, lane detection and even detecting curbstones. This premium version of the surround view system will even permit vehicles to park themselves automatically, even if there is no driver inside.

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