Newsight Imaging: Bringing Advanced Vehicle Sensing Technologies into the Mainstream

Article By : Stephen Las Marias

Newsight Imaging aims to make technologies for safety systems and DMS affordable not only for luxury cars but also for the mainstream vehicles.

This month’s In Focus looks at the latest developments, challenges, opportunities, and strategies in the electric vehicle (EV) space.

 


Early in September, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger predicted that semiconductors will account for more than 20% of the total premium vehicle bill of materials (BOM) by 2030—a staggering 5x growth rate over 2019’s 4% figure. This comes amid increasing demand for semiconductors generally.

But one semiconductor sector seeing rapid growth in particular is the sensor. “We see the trend, which starts with the class method, driver assistance systems, and finally the complete autonomous car,” says Eli Assoolin, CEO, chairman, and co-founder of Newsight Imaging.

Founded in 2016, Israel-based Newsight Imaging is a leading developer of advanced CMOS image sensors for LiDAR, machine vision, and spectral analysis, to name a few.

Eli Assoolin

“From the beginning, we position ourselves in a place that can support all levels. We are not developing something that would be suitable only for Level 5 or Level 4 of the autonomous car; we design something that can be used right now to increase the safety of the car, and we see ourselves playing a major role in this area, in which we provide a solution that is not only good in terms of performance but is also affordable,” says Assoolin. “I am talking about maybe more than 10x cheaper than the parallel solution.”

Bringing innovations into reality

According to Assoolin, the challenges for companies is to execute and bring into reality the two main revolutions happening right now: the electric vehicle and the autonomous car.

“These are the two revolutions we are witnessing,” he says. “They might have different challenges, but I would say that they are common in the fact that they are relying not only about the car but also the infrastructure. So, I think the progress on these two developments might be dictated not only by the challenges for the OEMs themselves, but also by the governments that will allow the proper infrastructure to support these revolutions.”

For Newsight Imaging, their part is to make the technologies related to safety systems and driver monitoring systems affordable not only for luxury cars but also for the mainstream vehicles.

“We have a strategic collaboration with Tier 1 company ZKW Group. It started two years ago when we won their innovation competition. Then, we developed with them a solution for the adaptive front-lighting system (AFS), which controls the lighting system. Basically, it allows you to drive the high light on, and the system identifies the other car lights and makes sure that the other drivers are not being blinded,” says Assoolin. The system, called ADB (adaptive driving beam) AFS, was made possible because of Newsight Imaging’s very fast camera solution.

Another technology from the company is the eTOF LiDAR, a reference design for 3D long-range LiDAR. “We have here a patented technology that actually replaces all the 3D technologies that need to capture ‘depth point’,” explains Assoolin. “Instead of capturing only 20 or 30 points at a time, we are capturing right now more than 32,000 depth points at a time, and we do it on the same chip. You can imagine the significant cost savings of our system.”

Product roadmap

“On the one hand, it’s not easy to be conservative for innovative companies like us. But I would say that the autonomous car revolution, the Level 5, we see it as a matter of more than 10 years, even longer,” says Assoolin. “But at the same time, I would say that the revolution for the autonomous taxi, for example, is very possible. Autonomous public transportation is very likely to happen in this decade, and we think that the innovation—if we are talking about the autonomous car—will be helping the driver to focus on the issues that are not possible to handle right now by computing or AI; or are not regulated enough.”

Assoolin notes that cars need to have surrounding, 360° sensors. “Automatic parking will happen. If it is only available now in some luxury cars, for sure will happen in mainstream vehicles.”

The lighting system has become a major safety system. “This trend already started, but we see that innovation will be more and more about identifying the driver gesture and following them,” he says. “But there might be a place for some new innovations that we haven’t really thought about, like following the air in the cabin of the car and checking the quality of it. We can contribute to it through our spectral technology.”

In general, Assoolin says the future of driving will be more like that of a pilot. “A pilot is mainly supervising the system, you know—the plane is basically flying itself,” he says. “We think that the same trend will happen in the coming decade in vehicles.”

Bright prospects ahead

The automotive electronics market is booming. “Putting yourself in something that needs to bring you safely to another place—you count on your sensors,” says Assoolin.

“Sensors are still limited. So, I think sensors, starting with the surrounding of the car and then following the car—it’s already there, but it will be booming undoubtedly. And the key for that is the pricing and the ability to push complicated systems into chips. That’s the trend. And we definitely see that this market will grow exponentially, not only in cars but also in other types of vehicles that might happen.”

He adds that their estimates are even very conservative. “You see, big companies like Intel emphasizes on this market, so we think we are in a good neighborhood,” concludes Assoolin.

 

Stephen Las Marias is the editor of EE Times Asia/India and EDN Asia.

 

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