12 January 2021
ams introduces first AEC-Q102- and ISO 26262-compliant VCSEL flood illuminator
High-performance sensor designer and manufacturer ams AG of Premstaetten, Austria has announced the pre-release of the TARA2000-AUT family of vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) flood illuminators for automotive applications – claimed to be first to be qualified to the AEC-Q102 automotive quality standard and the ISO 26262 functional safety standard.
TARA2000-AUT products are suitable for new optical in-cabin sensing (ICS) systems based on two-dimensional near-infrared (2D NIR) imaging or three-dimensional (3D) time-of-flight (ToF) sensing, which support the next generation of assisted and autonomous driving technologies in vehicles.
In driver monitoring systems (DMS) – which track whether the driver is alert and attentive while driving – high optical power distributed over the whole field of illumination (FOI) means that a single TARA2000-AUT illuminator can replace multiple lower-power emitters. This offers automotive OEMs savings in space, component count, and cost, says ams. With peak optical output centered at 940nm and a very narrow spectrum, the TARA2000-AUT also makes it easy for automotive OEMs to achieve high immunity to interference by sunlight, improving the monitoring system’s performance and reliability, says ams.
The TARA2000-AUT is also available with an ultra-wide FOI to give what is described as excellent responsiveness in gesture-sensing applications for use by both the driver and passengers. The wide-FOI version is also suitable for interior monitoring systems, for example for the detection of passengers who should be wearing a seat belt, or for the detection of baby seats and child passengers for automatic airbag adjustment. These systems also help to detect children, pets or objects left behind inside parked cars (a potential cause of serious harm that can be prevented by the implementation of optical interior monitoring).
The availability of ams’ high-performance, AEC-Q102-qualified product has finally given automotive OEMs the confidence to switch to VCSEL technology for in-cabin sensing applications, says Firat Sarialtun, In-Cabin Sensing segment manager at ams. “Technical evaluation of the optical characteristics of the TARA2000-AUT shows that its high optical power uniformly distributed over the whole FOI gives a high signal-to-noise ratio and provides high image quality, so minimizing the number of illuminators needed for the scene. Our solution’s excellent thermal behavior also ensures stable operation at all temperatures without sacrificing optical power, and eliminating the need for additional cooling measures,” he adds. “By using the TARA2000-AUT, automotive manufacturers can develop in-cabin sensors which perform better at a lower system cost.”
Integrated supply chain
ams says that automotive manufacturers can take assurance from its vertically integrated manufacturing model for VCSEL illuminators, which enables it to make high-volume production commitments without depending on third parties for key elements of the product. The TARA2000-AUT is a combination of a VCSEL emitter designed and manufactured in-house by ams and an optical diffusor made with proprietary ams micro-lens array technology, all integrated into a single module.
Matching the micro-optics to suit the characteristics of the VCSEL emitter, the illuminator produces a uniform beam with edge-to-edge high-power illumination over a rectangular field. This tightly controlled illumination profile and FOI match the field of view of the IR image sensors used in 2D and 3D systems, increasing the strength and integrity of the reflected optical signal.
Range of product options
The TARA2000-AUT family of illuminators offers two wavelength options:
- 850nm for systems requiring maximum sensitivity at the CMOS image sensors; and
- 940nm to avoid visible red glow and interference from sunlight.
Depending on the wavelength of choice, the TARA2000-AUT is available with an ultra-narrow, narrow or ultra-wide FOI.
The TARA2000-AUT flood illuminators are available for sampling now.