As drivers, our human perception and visibility system- the ocular-brain connection- is key to keeping us safe. But that’s changing as automobiles get increasingly more advanced — automated cruise control, lane guidance, parking assistance, et al. What happens if something obstructs our windshield, cameras, or LiDAR? Can software alone work? What enabling technologies are required to keep us safe? How does a car “see clearly” as we increasingly rely on subsystems to assist us when we drive?
On episode 2 of The Future of Supply Chain, we sit down with Diane Lansinger, Co-founder of SEEVA to discuss her founder journey, enabling perception/visibility in automotive, and the role SEEVA’s enabling products play in the ramp of AVs and driver safety. SEEVA’s QwikTherm System takes wasted energy from a vehicle’s engine to heat washer fluid to spray on any surface — windshield, ADAS, LiDAR, tail lights, et al. This system is at the core of their roadmap of products that drive to improve perception and visibility for automotive. Below are key takeaways and quotes from our discussion.
Perception in automotive has changed and gives way to an ecosystem of enabling technologies. Humans have always been the eyes and ears when operating a vehicle, but there is a shift happening. Technology has now begun monitoring and making decision for the vehicle. You can already see this in modern cars: rear-view cameras, lane-change cameras and sensors, auto-parallel parking, etc. Underpinning a lot of the benefits of perception are a variety of enabling technologies.
There are now more sensors and cameras on modern vehicles. Enhancing the drivers perception using more advanced technology opens the door for companies building enabling systems. SEEVA’s QwikTherm System makes it easier for these sensors and cameras to stay clean, which will keep them operable. It’s increasingly accepted that software can only go so far in solving physical obstruction.
Technology can take care of the driver; reducing human error in the equation. Advanced driver assistance systems are maturing and reducing human error while tapping into the driver’s know-how by exception. SEEVA’s working on a system that will not only heat the fluid but also automatically distribute the fluid onto the obstructed sensor or camera without human intervention. Typically, if a sensor is being blocked, the vehicle will shut down a feature such as lane-change warning and automatic cruise control. SEEVA can improve the uptime of key driver assistance systems to maintain safety.
OEMs need to address climate fencing before going mainstream. Companies such as Tesla are launching autonomous cars in geographies where they have a high quality and quantity of data surrounding pedestrian flow, traffic patterns, traffic signal timing, etc. They are also launching them in climate fenced regions — relatively dry with little rain, and no snow. This works for now, but not for long. The current crop of AVs are not being exposed to rain, snow, bugs, or mud. If we want to achieve full autonomy, we need technology to maintain and clean “faces of perception” like windshields, sensors, and lights in all types of climates without human intervention.
Image Source: American Thermal