Sensor gives air bags depth

Siemens Automotive will make the production debut of its its 3D object/occupant recognition sensor on a 2003 model-year car.

Siemens Automotive will make the production debut of its its three-dimensional object/occupant recognition sensor on a 2003 model-year European and US small car application, augmenting the airbag safety system.

Originally developed in co-operation with Siemens Corporate Technology researchers and the Fraunhofer Society for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems in Duisburg, Germany, it is the first three-dimensional object/occupant recognition sensor based entirely on semiconductor components.

The new method, called multiple double short time integration (MDSI), directs near-infrared, low-power laser pulses through the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

A Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) image converter with extremely short integration time detects the reflected light, which is then processed by an image converter chip. In one thousandth of a second, the distances of 1000 different object points are simultaneously measured to an accuracy of one centimeter, creating a three-dimensional image of objects within the passenger compartment.

Previously, occupant sensing has been accomplished by utilising a laser pulse deflected by a mirror, a highly technical method that is not as robust or timely as required by the automotive industry.

Siemens Automotive is looking to use the occupant sensor to augment the control and safety of airbag triggering on passenger vehicles. While mat or weight sensors in the seat will provide occupant classification, 3-D sensing will enhance this data with a position measurement as well.

More at www.siemensauto.com