Vayyar launches 3D sensors that give self-driving cars interior awareness

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A lot of the sensor hardware being developed by component suppliers in the autonomous driving industry focus on getting a clear picture of what’s happening outside the car, but Vayyar’s new 3D sensors provide a detailed look inside the car, including information about passengers. The 3D sensor tech also doesn’t use any optical image capture, so it’s better from a privacy perspective than cameras, and they can work in any lighting as a result, too.

These embedded sensors are also small and low-cost compared to other sending solutions, and can provide real-time info about what’s going on in a car, including monitoring passenger vital signs, and even keeping track of whether a driver is nodding off behind the wheel. The potential for Level 2 and Level 3 autonomy here is huge, since the sensors could potentially be used to help monitor driver attentiveness and ensure they’re alerted when they need to be actively monitoring the car and the road.

Autonomous cars could also use the tech to optimize safety, deploying appropriate airbags tailored to the actual vehicle’s passengers and positions in case of an accident. Future autonomous car in-vehicle services could also make use of the tech, tailoring display and delivery of info on in-car displays and modifying environment controls, for instance.

Vayyar also notes that the sensors can be used to automatically detect and send information about survivors within a vehicle in case of accidents, potentially giving emergency responders an early leg up.

Beyond interior monitoring, the 3D sensors created by Vayyar also have applications in terms of monitoring the area immediately surrounding the vehicle, “removing all blind spots” according to the company. They work regardless of light levels, and environmental obstructions like fog or extreme heat, again giving them advantages over optical sensing hardware.

Vayyar has some strong expertise backing its products, too, including CEO and co-founder Raviv Melamed, who was previously VP of Intel’s Architecture Groupu and the GM of its Worldwide Mobile Wireless Group.