Israeli startup TriEye has announced a collaboration with Porsche to use its short-wave infra-red (SWIR) cameras to achieve better visibility for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles (AV) in adverse weather conditions and at night-time.

Founded in 2016 by CEO Avi Bakal, VP of R&D Omer Kapach and Professor Uriel Levy, the CTO, after nearly a decade of advanced nanophotonics research at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, TriEye has developed an HD SWIR camera that is CMOS-based, enabling the scalable mass-production of SWIR sensors and reducing the cost by a factor of 1,000 compared to current InGaAs-based technology, according to the firm. As a result, the company can produce an affordable HD SWIR camera in a miniaturized format, supporting easy in-vehicle mounting behind the car’s windshield. TriEye said it has already succeeded in proving the technology works and can be mass-produced.

As ADAS systems are expected to operate under a wider range of scenarios, car manufacturers and their suppliers (OEMs and Tier 1s) recognize that SWIR has a role to play in ADAS and AV sensor fusion in order to achieve full visibility under any weather or lighting conditions. TriEye said even when combining several sensing solutions such as radar, lidar and a camera, it is impossible to accurately detect and identify objects such as a cyclist at night under common adverse conditions. While defense and aerospace industries have already solved the low visibility challenge by using InGaAs-based SWIR cameras, up until now, these cameras have been too expensive for mass-market applications.

TriEye camera

TriEye’s CMOS-based SWIR camera (Source: TriEye)

Avi Bakal, said the company’s Raven camera has already drawn the attention of global vehicle manufacturers. “Low visibility conditions such as fog, darkness and dust, and hazards such as black ice on the road, are some of the main contributors to injuries and fatalities in car crashes. In the U.S. alone, around 21% of all vehicle crashes – nearly 1.2 million annually – are weather related and often involve low visibility.”

Porsche’s involvement with TriEye follows its $2M investment in the company through its ventures arm last August. Earlier in the year, TriEye announced a $17M series A funding round led by Intel Capital. To date TriEye has now raised around $22M and expects to see samples of its cameras in the market this year.

Michael Steiner, member of the executive board for research and development at Porsche, commented, “We see great potential in this sensor technology that paves the way for the next generation of driver assistance systems and autonomous driving functions. SWIR can be a key element: it offers enhanced safety at a competitive price.” He added that TriEye is a promising technology company led by a strong team with experience in nanophotonics, deep learning, and the development of semiconductor components.

Bakal said the fact that Porsche, a leading car manufacturer, is investing and collaborating with the firm using its CMOS-based SWIR camera for ADAS is a significant vote of confidence in its technology.