Imagine a snow and ice covered vehicle on a winter’s day: in order to navigate safely the driver will clear the snow and defrost the windshield and backlite before taking to the road. Autonomous vehicles (AVs) take human drivers out of the driver’s seat and sometimes even out of the car altogether. But who – or what – will intervene when the AV’s safe functioning is at risk because blocked sensors compromise the accuracy of its ADAS features ? In the above case, the AV fully relies on its sensors to activate the wipers and heating systems that clear the windows and allow the ADAS features to do their work. Therefore sensors must be free of obstructions such as ice and dirt at all times.
British Tech company TTP is aware that the sheer number of sensors on an AV makes manual cleaning impossible and proposes that sensor manufacturers build a self-cleaning feature into their devices. While washer fluids may be the perfect answer for cleaning windshields, their need for replenishing make them impractical on a multitude of sensors around the car. TTP’s solution builds on an existing technology in digital cameras: ultrasonic cleaning by which a tiny amount of cleaner is atomized into a fine mist. The technique has the added advantage of representing only a small amount of the total cost of the sensor itself.
Carmakers will be very pleased with TTP’s solution as it lifts the worry of sensor upkeep.