25 Oct 2017

ON Semiconductor introduces next-generation automotive image sensors

ON Semiconductor has announced a CMOS image sensor platform to provide improved levels of performance and image quality to automotive applications such as ADAS, mirror replacement, rear and surround view systems and autonomous driving.

ON Semiconductor is now providing a platform rather than individual elements of the systems for automotive solutions. This new development of the image sensor platform is part of this move.

The Hayabusa platform features a ground-breaking 3.0-micron backside illuminated pixel design that delivers a charge capacity of 100,000 electrons, the highest in the industry, with other key automotive features such as simultaneous on-chip high dynamic range, HDR, with LED flicker mitigation, LFM, plus real-time functional safety and automotive grade qualification.

The Hayabusa family gains its name from the Japanese word for Peregrine Falcon. This bird has very effective eyesight enabling it to see many other things that would just not be possible for the human eye.

“The Hayabusa family enables automakers to meet the evolving standards for ADAS such as European NCAP 2020, and offer next-generation features such as electronic mirrors and high-resolution surround view systems with anti-flicker technology. The scalable approach of the sensors from ½” to ¼” optical sizes reduces customer development time and effort for multiple car platforms, giving them a time-to-market advantage.” said Ross Jatou, VP and GM of the Automotive Solutions Division at ON Semiconductor.

Jatou continued: “ON Semiconductor has been shipping image sensors with this pixel architecture in high-end digital cameras for cinematography and television. We are now putting this proven architecture into new sensors developed from the ground up for automotive standards.”

The high charge capacity of this pixel design enables every device in the Hayabusa family to deliver Super-Exposure capability, which results in 120dB HDR images with LFM for high image fidelity in the most challenging scenes without sacrificing low-light sensitivity. The simultaneous HDR and LFM capability is especially important in enhancing safety as it ensures that all objects and potential hazards can be identified in both very dark and very bright areas of the scene. With the widespread use of LEDs for front and rear lighting as well as traffic signs, the LFM capability of the platform makes certain that pulsed light sources do not appear to flicker, which can lead to driver distraction or, in the case of front facing ADAS, the misinterpretation of a scene by machine vision algorithms.

The Hayabusa product family also features real-time, ISO26262-compliant functional safety capabilities to alert the system processor if the sensor has any issues or potential errors. These features enable system designs rated up to ASIL-C. The real-time capability enables errors to be identified immediately rather than waiting for the full image to be transferred to the processor and then waiting for image analysis. This faster response time means the system processor can take immediate action to remedy the issue, which is crucial when considering that a vehicle moving on a freeway easily covers 100 feet in less than one second.

The first product in this family, the 2.6 MP AR0233 CMOS image sensor, is capable of running at 60 fps while simultaneously delivering ultra-high dynamic range and LED flicker mitigation along with all of the Hayabusa platform features. Samples are available now to early access customers.

Developing image sensing technology is challenging. Real world scenery has a dynamic range of between 120 and 140 dB. This creates real challenges in managing this. Further challenges includes pulsed LED traffic lights with pulse repetition rates of around 100Hz. Whilst this is acceptable for the human eye, it creates issues for image sensors that have to determine the presence of a light and also determine what it is. Further challenges include night time detection of pedestrians or cyclists.

The automotive sector provides around 31% of the revenue of ON Semiconductor and as such it is the largest group within the company. Areas in which the company is active include active safety, fuel economy & emission reduction, body electronics, connectivity and power management, and lighting. Also On Semiconductor is the seventh largest automotive semiconductor supplier in the world and it is the second largest non-micro supplier, supplying more than 50% of the global image sensor market.

By Ian Poole

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