US 20070069135 A1
A method and a device for controlling a radiation source are described, the radiation source illuminating an illumination range. At least one surveillance sensor of the motor vehicle monitors the environment of the vehicle for the presence of objects. The radiation source is switched off and/or its intensity is reduced as a function of the distance to this object.
11. A method for controlling at least one radiation source illuminating an illumination range, comprising:
monitoring by at least one sensor at least part of the illumination range for a presence of at least one object;
generating by the at least one sensor a sensor signal as a function of the at least one object present; and
performing at least one of the following as a function of the sensor signal:
switching off the at least one radiation source, and
a radiation intensity of the radiation source.
12. The method as recited in
13. The method as recited in
the at least one sensor includes at least one of:
at least one ultrasound sensor,
at least one radar sensor operating in a wavelength range of at least one of 24 GHz and 77 GHz,
at least one LIDAR sensor, and
at least one video sensor.
14. The method as recited in
de-activating the radiation source if a distance to the at least one object is less than a limiting value.
15. The method as recited in
wherein the radiation intensity of the radiation source is regulated as a function of the sensor signals.
16. The method as recited in
17. The method as recited in
determining an approach to the at least one object from the sensor signal, wherein the radiation source is one of switched off and regulated as a function of the approach to the at least one object.
18. The method as recited in
issuing a warning for the at least one object present, the warning corresponding to at least one of acoustic warning signal and a visual warning signal.
19. A device for controlling a radiation source illuminating an illumination range, comprising:
at least one sensor configured in such a way that the at least one sensor monitors at least part of the illumination range of the radiation source for a presence of at least one object, the at least one sensor generating a sensor signal as a function of the at least one object present,
at least one processing unit that, as a function of the sensor signal, at least one of switches off the radiation source and reduces an intensity of the radiation source.
20. The device as recited in
The present invention relates to a method and a device for controlling a radiation source, in particular a light source, preferably in a motor vehicle, as well as its use in a system, in particular in a night vision system in a motor vehicle.
German Patent No. 40 32 927 describes a device for improving the visibility in a motor vehicle. An image captured by an infrared-sensitive camera is visually superimposed, as a virtual image, on the outside landscape using a display device designed as a head-up display and is displayed to the driver. Furthermore, at least one radiation source having an infrared radiation component is provided for illuminating the visual range viewed by the driver in the direction of travel.
Night vision systems (NV systems) of this type, such as described in German Patent No. 40 32 927, based on light having wavelengths in the near infrared (NIR) range, illuminate the scene in front of a motor vehicle using infrared headlights (NIR headlights), usually having high beam characteristics. Under certain conditions, NIR radiation, which is not visible to humans and most animals, may affect the eyes of humans and animals that are within the effective range of such NIR headlights. To prevent such negative effects, it is conceivable to derive minimum distances for certain radiation intensities between NIR headlights and eyes, which are to be observed and are ensured by design measures, for example.
In addition to design measures, German Published Patent Application No.101 26 492, for example, describes an alternative method to ensure that traffic participants are affected by NIR light. A method is proposed in which laser light having a wavelength outside the visible spectrum is only emitted when the vehicle is in motion. Furthermore, a method is known whereby NIR headlights are not activated until a minimum velocity, for example 30 km/h, is reached. The disadvantage of these methods is that the night view function of a night vision system is not available when the vehicle is at a standstill or is moving slowly, although even in those cases there may be situations where the night view function is useful. For example, a night view function would be useful when driving slowly on unpaved roads or narrow streets. Furthermore, the service life of NIR headlights is negatively affected by them being frequently switched on and off. Stop-and-go situations and/or driving situations in the proximity of the minimum velocity place a heavy load on NIR headlights in particular. This may result in the acceptance of such night vision systems by users being reduced due to this limited availability.
By switching off the radiation source or reducing its intensity when approaching an object, risk to humans due to radiation sources in the non-visible wavelength range is effectively counteracted.
It is particularly advantageous that it may be reliably detected that an object is being approached with the help of distance-measuring sensors, at least some of which are already present in vehicles nowadays, allowing the radiation source to be turned off or its intensity reduced or diminished as a function of the distance.
All in all, a procedure for improving the visibility in a motor vehicle is thus achieved without negative effects and with a high degree of availability. In a particularly advantageous manner, the method contributes to reducing the negative effects, in particular the negative effects on the eyes, in humans such as pedestrians and/or cyclists and/or automobile drivers and/or animals by non-visible radiation outside the visible spectrum.
The use of the procedure described below is advantageous in particular in night vision systems in motor vehicles in which a video sensor that is sensitive at least in the visible spectral range, in particular in the near infrared spectral range, captures the surroundings of the motor vehicle, and this information is displayed to the driver. The night vision system is only deactivated by the method described below if the sensors detect objects and/or these objects are at a minimum distance from the radiation source. This contributes, in a particularly advantageous manner, to increasing the service life and availability of the light sources used, in particular of the headlights operating in the near infrared range (NIR headlights).
It is particularly advantageous that at least one short-range sensor (e.g., an ultrasound sensor), preferably of a system already installed in the vehicle (e.g., of a parking aid) and/or at least one radar sensor is used for distance measurement. The use of such sensors already used in the vehicle for other functions involves only a slight additional cost, since no additional hardware is required.
The distance-regulated (distance to the object) setting of the intensity of the radiation source is advantageous. A setting that is proportional to the distance is advantageous. Furthermore, fully switching off the radiation source below a minimum distance (e.g., 20 cm) is advantageous.
A warning to the driver and/or to the at least one object present by an acoustic and/or visual warning signal, when it is recognized that an object is being approached, is advantageous in particular.
A method, a device and a processing unit for improving the visibility in a motor vehicle is described below, a radiation source of the motor vehicle illuminating an illumination range. At least one surveillance sensor of the motor vehicle monitors the surroundings of the vehicle for the presence of objects. In the preferred exemplary embodiment, the radiation source is a light source, for example, the headlight of a vehicle.
In the preferred exemplary embodiment, the space in front of two NIR headlights of a night vision system is monitored by sensors. These are used to detect people and other objects in front of the NIR headlights, in particular distance to the NIR headlights, and when the distance drops below the minimum distance, the NIR headlights are de-activated. As an alternative to de-activation of both NIR headlights, only one headlight may be de-activated, so that the night view function of the night vision system remains available at least to a reduced degree.
As an alternative to de-activation of at least one NIR headlight, in a variant of the preferred exemplary embodiment, the radiation intensity of the NIR headlight is reduced; in a preferred embodiment it is regulated as a function of the distance. In one embodiment, this is accomplished by the existence of an approximately proportional relationship between distance and intensity in at least one distance value range.
In one embodiment, the radiation source is switched off for distance values to the object below a certain value (in the case of dangerous limiting distances, e.g., distances smaller than 20 cm).
In one embodiment, a warning (visual, acoustic, and/or haptic) is provided to the driver and/or the object.
In the preferred exemplary embodiment, distance-measuring sensors are used, which are already present in the vehicle or whose use in the vehicle is at least known. These are, for example, ultrasound-based park pilot sensors (PP sensors), long-range 77 GHz radar sensors such as used for ACC (adaptive cruise control), short-range 24 GHz radar sensors, or LIDAR sensors.
In one embodiment, not only the distance to the object, but also the approach to an object is recognized from the distance signal and/or its variation. When approaching an object has been recognized, the above measures are implemented individually or in any desired combination.
The above-described procedure is suitable for all visibility-supporting systems having radiation sources outside the visible range for automobiles or other applications, for example, in measuring systems in manufacturing and process technology. In particular, the procedure is suitable for night vision systems for motor vehicles in the forward as well as in the reverse direction of travel (backing-up camera and diode tail lights).
The above-described method and/or the method are not limited to use in a night vision system having NIR headlights. Rather, the method and/or the device and/or the processing unit are also usable, in addition to night view functions, in other automobile functions operating with light having wavelengths outside the visible spectrum, for example, in infrared light-based communication between two motor vehicles. Alternatively or additionally, radiation sources emitting light having wavelengths in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum are monitored.
In a further variant, the above-described method and/or the device and/or the processing unit is used in the rear area of the vehicle, for example, in an infrared-based backing-up camera and diode tail lights.
In a further variant of the preferred exemplary embodiment, alternatively or additionally, a warning is issued for the at least one object present by an acoustic and/or visual warning signal.
The driver may be warned via visual, acoustic, and/or haptic actuators.