DETROIT – Cameras and sensors are the eyes of advanced driver assist systems, but their Achilles heel is they easily can be blinded by mud and snow. It is a major issue for future autonomous vehicles.
Röchling Automotive, a major supplier of windshield and headlight cleaning systems in Europe, says it has the answer: an intelligent computer-controlled fluid cleaning system that knows when key cameras and Lidar systems need to be sprayed clean.
It’s called the Advanced Active Cleaning System. It features an electronic control unit integrated into a conventional windshield washer fluid reservoir and an electronically controlled manifold that meters fluid to numerous strategically located nozzles.
Vincent Mauroit, general manager-Innovation and Business Development, says that when an autonomous vehicle detects its sensors or cameras are obscured, it will send a message to the AACS’s ECU and it will respond by pumping a precisely controlled fluid dosage to spritz a dirty area. The system is designed to require low energy consumption to prevent unnecessary strain on the car’s power supply, Mauroit says.
To reach various parts on the vehicle’s exterior with the precise amount of water needed, the AACS regulates the flow rate to specific areas through the manifold. It also monitors water levels and will conserve fluid and prioritize the most safety-related sensors when levels are low.
The system uses only one tank to simplify refilling, but is large enough to serve conventional car parts, such as the headlights and front and rear windshields, when necessary.
Mauroit says there is lots interest in the system and Röchling already is involved with three OEM advanced development programs.