Toyota's 'Night View' Depends on Vehicle Speed, Brightness, Weather

May 29, 2008
Keisuke Ogawa, Nikkei Automotive Technology
The LCD meters in Eco Mode with frames indicated in green
The LCD meters in Eco Mode with frames indicated in green
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The LCD meters in Sport Mode with frames indicated in red
The LCD meters in Sport Mode with frames indicated in red
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Pedestrian recognition: Yellow frames are displayed around the pedestrians and the entire image.
Pedestrian recognition: Yellow frames are displayed around the pedestrians and the entire image.
[Click to enlarge image]
The image that the Night Vision system displays while driving
The image that the Night Vision system displays while driving
[Click to enlarge image]

Toyota Motor Corp's "Crown Hybrid" released in May 2008 is equipped with the "Night View" system that displays the view of the road ahead at night.

In the previous model, the view of the road ahead is displayed on the windshield, and it is overlapped with the view right in front of the car. But the latest model ensures a clear view in front of the car by displaying the view of the road ahead on the LCD meters, even though the driver has to look back and forth between the front view and the meters.

The newest Crown Hybrid employs pattern recognition to recognize pedestrians. Multiple sets of image data on the shapes of pedestrians have been prepared and, the shape of the image shot by the system is compared with the data. When the system determines that a pedestrian is present, yellow frames are displayed around the pedestrian as well as the entire image on the screen.

The yellow frame surrounding the entire image helps driver to recognize pedestrians without moving the sight to the LCD meter.

The LCD meter has a resolution of 1280 x 480 dots. The size of the image indicated by the Night View system is 614 x 346 dots. Vehicle speed, brightness and weather are the conditions that affect the activation of the pedestrian detection function of the Night View system.

According to Toyota, the requisite vehicle speed is 15-60km/h, because it is difficult to recognize pedestrians with the current processing circuit at speeds exceeding 60km/h. The pedestrian detection function will not be activated either, when it is too dark to turn on the low-beam light. Furthermore, the wipers operated in rain will lower the recognition accuracy, thus also preventing the function from being activated.

Toyota plans to consider incorporating a function to recognize bicycles and animals, in addition to pedestrians, because the company has received a number of requests for such a feature from users.

Meanwhile, LCD meters increase the cost, although they have matured technically. According to a demonstrator from Toyota, it is "several times more expensive than the existing meters." The company aims to reduce the cost by increasing the number of models equipped with an LCD meter and by providing greater variation in sizes.