Pedestrian-detector to come to Mercedes cars

Top-of-the-range Mercedes vehicles will soon come equipped with an artificial vision system designed to detect pedestrians.

Developed by a team of German researchers, with the help of a lecturer at the University of Alcalá in Spain, the device includes two cameras and a unit that processes the information in real time.

“The new system can detect pedestrians from within vehicles using visible spectrum cameras and can do so even at night,” says David Fernández Llorca of the University of Alcalá.

The clever bit is the use of a dense ‘stereo’ system, which uses two cameras, 30cm apart in a structure below the rear-view mirror.

“Human beings are able to make out the distance and depth of objects thanks to our two eyes – the same occurs with artificial vision,” says Llorca.

Collecting the information from all the points that make up each of the images that the cameras capture allows for a much more precise real-time recognition of the area in front of the vehicle.

Animate objects – such as a child suddenly running across the road -can be detected in less that 200 milliseconds,

The two cameras are connected to a processing unit that executes the artificial vision algorithm.

Images can be seen live on a screen with a heads-up display, or through projections on the inner side of the windscreen. Several response elements can also be added to warn or assist the driver, such as alarms, brake activation systems and even devices that take control of the wheel.

Llorca says he expects to see the new pedestrian recognition system in the new, top-of-the-range Mercedes models very soon. At the moment, Class C Mercedes vehicles already have single camera systems to detect special objects such as road signs.