In its major breakthrough in imaging technology, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU Singapore) has devised a camera which would enable self-driving cars and drones to see better in extreme climatic and topographical conditions.
NTU's new smart camera has the capacity to record the fluctuations in light intensity within a rapidly changing environment at nanosecond intervals. Furthermore, it can carry out an almost simultaneous analysis of the images captured, fleshing out pivotal objects and details.
"Our new camera can be a great safety tool for autonomous vehicles, since it can see very far ahead like optical cameras but without the time lag needed to analyse and process the video feed," said Asst Prof Chen, NTU's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering while explaining the camera developed by him.
The camera which is better known as "Celex", is at its final prototype phase. Chen had showcased a version of it at the 2017 IS&T International Symposium on Electronic Imaging (EI 2017), which was held in the United States at San Francisco. The show was recently concluded and lauded by the academia and top industry players worldwide.
The research to build a camera which is able to record the miniscule shifts in light intensity of individual pixels at its sensor, and store the data output in a format that is smaller than the traditional alternatives, was initiated in 2009 and has managed to rake in a staggering $500,000 in funding from the Ministry of Education Tier 1 research grant and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Proof-of-Concept grant.
"With its continuous tracking feature and instant analysis of a scene, it complements existing optical and laser cameras and can help self-driving vehicles and drones avoid unexpected collisions that usually happens within seconds," says Chen discussing his plans to roll it out as soon as possible. He has also created a start-up firm named Hillhouse Tech to bring this technology to consumers and expects to sell it commercially by the end of this year.