Sensor Fusion, Smart Mobility

Self-cleaning Cameras for self-driving Cars

Everybody is talking about self-driving cars, but what about self-cleaning cameras?

Whether through bird droppings, pollen during spring or simply dirt from the road – sensors of autonomous vehicles will get dirty and need to be cleaned in order to function properly.

Autonomous driving is dependent on an exact environmental perception by sensors. Latter are driverless cars’ “eyes” which detect obstacles and its own position. The sensors also need the best possible mapping material.

Sensor data is processed and transferred to the corresponding systems in order to react on traffic situations. If a pedestrian suddenly enters the road, this is recognized by the radar sensor. The information is then passed on to the autonomous emergency brake. If the driver himself doesn’t react the car itself will pull the brake to prevent severe accidents.

But there are more sensors in an autonomous car than the radar - Lidar systems, ultrasonic sensors and cameras are also applied. Cameras identify traffic signs, lane markings and the distance to approaching objects. Rear view cameras are also getting more popular. But cameras can only work with a clear view. That is why several companies developed innovative concepts to keep cameras clean and functional during the drive.

Camera Cleaning

In April international supplier Continental introduced a new camera cleaning system where cleansing water is directed at the camera lense. The autonomous cleaning process is comfortable and safe. Google subsidiary “Waymo” also developed a self-cleaning mode for their sensors. Here the dome covering the lidar kit that sits atop the car is cleaned with water and small windshield wipers. The wipers emerge and spin around the dome until it is freed from the dirt.

Have a look at the “micro car wash” process with this YouTube video:

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site:

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