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Sony targets automotive cameras with high-definition CMOS image sensor

14 Sep 2023

Enables automated systems to spot hazards at longer distances; and better synchronisation with scanning lidar.

Sony Semiconductor Solutions is to launch a new CMOS image sensor for automotive cameras with what it calls “the industry's highest pixel count, at 17.42 effective megapixels” (eMP).

The new sensor, the “IMX735”, will support the development of automotive camera systems capable of sophisticated sensing and recognition performance, contributing to “safe, secure automated driving,” said the tech giant in its announcement, this week.

For automated systems to deliver automated driving, they must offer sophisticated, high-precision sensing and recognition performance, encompassing 360 degrees of the environment around the vehicle. There is significant demand for image sensors that can help achieve this level of performance and support the development of more advanced automotive camera systems.

The new sensor product achieves the industry's highest pixel count of 17.42 eMP (among CMOS image sensors for automotive cameras), enabling high-definition capture of distant objects.

Moreover, automated driving systems often use automotive cameras in combination with lidar and other sensing systems. While typical CMOS image sensors readout signals output from pixels one vertical line at a time, the new Sony sensor outputs signals horizontally, one row at a time.

This means that automotive cameras employing this sensor can more easily synchronize with mechanical scanning lidar systems, since their laser beams also scan horizontally. This better synchronization will improve the sensing and recognition capabilities of the automated driving system as a whole.

IMX735 specifications

Furthermore, the new sensors’ improved saturation illuminance, made possible by a proprietary pixel structure, and “unique exposure method yield” (Sony) a wide dynamic range of 106 dB even when simultaneously employing high dynamic range imaging and LED flicker mitigation.

The dynamic range is even higher, at 130 dB, when using dynamic range priority mode. This creative design helps suppress highlight blowouts even in backlit conditions, enabling more precise object capture in road environments with significant differences in brightness, such as tunnel entrances and exits.

Sensor features include the following:

  • Long-distance recognition delivered by industry-leading 17.42 eMP.
  • Horizontal pixel signal output for easier synchronization with mechanical-scanning lidar.
  • Wide dynamic range even during simultaneous use of HDR and LED flicker mitigation
  • Compliance with standards required for automotive applications; the sensor is qualified for AEC-Q100 Grade 2 automotive electronic component reliability tests by mass production. Also, Sony has introduced a development process compliant with the ISO 26262 road vehicle functional safety standard, at automotive safety integrity level ASIL-B(D).
  • Cybersecurity required for automotive applications (optional); the sensor can support cybersecurity features such as camera authentication via a public-key algorithm to confirm CMOS image sensor authenticity, image authentication to detect any tampering with acquired images.

Mad City Labs, Inc.CeNing Optics Co LtdIridian Spectral TechnologiesTRIOPTICS GmbHAlluxaCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.LaCroix Precision Optics
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