Sony Corp will start volume production of an automotive CMOS image sensor with a pixel count of about eight million in 2020.

The sensor will be used for forward-monitoring cameras to realize functions such as automatic braking and autonomous driving. The pixel counts of existing automotive CMOS image sensors including products of companies other than Sony are about two million. By increasing pixel count, Sony aims to improve the range and accuracy of object recognition.

Sony started to ship samples of the sensor in 2017, planning to start volume production in June 2018 at first. The schedule was delayed due to specification changes, additional functions and market trends, but the company finally decided when to start volume production.

In regard to 8-Mpixel-class automotive CMOS image sensors, On Semiconductor Corp is planning to start volume production in the early 2020s.

Vehicles, while lines located 500m away can be recognized

There are two purposes in increasing pixel count. The first purpose is to make it easy to recognize objects located farther away. When an automotive CMOS image sensor with a pixel count of eight million is combined with a lens having an FOV (field of view) of 30°, it becomes possible to detect the types of vehicles and the states of white lines located 500m away, Sony said. It means that it is possible to take clear images of traffic signs located about 160m away.

With existing products having a pixel count of about two million, it is not possible to read the speed limit of a traffic sign located 100m or farther away.

Sony demonstrated the sensor at GPU Technology Conference (GTC) 2019, a developers conference of Nvidia (source: Nikkei Automotive)

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