This blog post was originally published at e-con Systems’ website. It is reprinted here with the permission of e-con Systems.
The rise of multi-camera systems has helped traditional automobiles and autonomous vehicles to eliminate blind spots with a comprehensive view of their surroundings. Discover how surround-view systems work and unearth insights on all the considerations for picking the ideal multi-camera setup.
Safety remains a top priority, especially for large vehicles and fleets. Blind spots have been a persistent challenge, leading to numerous accidents and collisions. However, with the rapid advancement of multi-camera systems, it becomes possible to eliminate these blind spots and create a 180-degree or 360-degree view of a vehicle’s surroundings. Not only does this technology benefit traditional automobiles, but it also plays a vital role in developing autonomous vehicles, such as autonomous tractors and patrol robots.
In this blog, you’ll understand the mechanics of surround-view systems, their benefits, and what factors to consider when choosing a multi-camera setup.
How multi-camera solutions work in surround-view systems
Integrating multiple cameras strategically placed around the vehicle creates a real-time panoramic view, giving drivers an unprecedented view of their surroundings. This comprehensive visibility empowers them to make more informed decisions, easily navigate tight spaces, and significantly reduce the probability of collisions.
Moreover, surround-view systems are not limited to conventional vehicles alone. Autonomous tractors and patrol robots, which operate without human intervention, rely heavily on surround-view systems to ensure their safety and the environment they interact with.
Each camera plays a pivotal role in capturing data from its designated angle, and all the feeds are synchronized to deliver a seamless, coherent view. It ensures that the driver or autonomous algorithms receive accurate, real-time information about their surroundings, enabling them to make split-second decisions that majorly impact safety.
Hardware synchronization and processing capability
Surround-view systems rely on a hardware-synchronized multi-camera setup to achieve an accurate and real-time view. In this case, image capture is initiated in all the cameras simultaneously through a hardware trigger like an external PWM signal. So, they have the same frame start – ensuring perfect alignment of the frames.
The synchronization is crucial because it ensures that all camera feeds are captured at the same instant, eliminating any discrepancies that may arise from time delays. This synchronization is achieved through sophisticated hardware and communication protocols, guaranteeing that the data from different cameras align perfectly.
Furthermore, processing capability is equally vital in a surround-view system. The sheer volume of data generated by multiple cameras demands a robust platform capable of handling the desired throughput efficiently. Advanced processors, GPUs, or specialized hardware units are employed to rapidly process the incoming data and stitch together the different camera feeds to form a seamless panoramic view.
What to ask while picking a multi-camera setup for your surround-view system
When choosing the best-fit multi-camera setup for your surround-view system, several questions must be carefully answered. These include:
How many cameras are required?
The first step in designing a surround-view system is determining the appropriate number of cameras. These systems can vary from having 3 to 10 cameras, depending on the specific requirements of the vehicle or device. Larger vehicles with more complex blind spots may necessitate a higher number of cameras for complete coverage. The desired video stream quality also influences the number of cameras, as a higher count can deliver a clearer view with more details and reduced lens distortions.
Which type of camera interface will be used?
The Gigabit Multimedia Serial Link (GMSL) interface is highly recommended for surround-view systems. GMSL enables high-resolution data transfer at high frame rates, facilitating real-time surround-view capabilities. In some cases, when cameras are placed relatively close to the host processor (1-2 meters), a USB interface can be considered. However, for optimal reliability, GMSL stands out as the preferred choice.
What is the host platform?
The host platform, typically consisting of processors and graphics units, plays a crucial role in handling the incoming data from multiple cameras. The number of camera pipelines must be taken into account when selecting the host platform. High-performance processors like NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier or AGX Orin are recommended for efficient processing and seamless integration of the surround-view system.
What is the synchronization method?
Achieving a cohesive 360-degree view requires all cameras to align perfectly with each other. This synchronization is essential for creating a seamless panoramic view. Hardware-based synchronization is the preferred method, as it ensures frame-level synchronization, which is crucial for accurately merging camera feeds. Software-based synchronization might not guarantee this level of precision, leading to potential discrepancies.
How about the latency level?
Latency is a critical factor, especially in real-time applications like surround-view systems. Whether for the driver of a conventional vehicle or an AI algorithm in an autonomous vehicle, minimal glass-to-glass latency is essential for prompt navigational decisions. Low latency helps avoid accidents and ensures the system can respond swiftly to changes in the surroundings.
e-con Systems’ multi-camera solutions for surround-view systems
e-con Systems offers unique multi-camera solutions that help surround-view systems see better, think smarter, and act faster. For instance, one of our latest releases is STURDeCAM31 – a game-changer for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). It comes with GMSL2 capability so that cameras can be positioned in a way that ensures long-distance support. Its integrated coaxial cables make the transmission of large video outputs easier. STURDeCAM31 also comes with the LFM feature to capture images seamlessly with pulsed light sources like LEDs.
If you want more information on how we can help integrate powerful multi-camera systems into your applications, please contact us at [email protected].
Product Marketing Manager, e-con Systems