Skip to main content

aDverse wEather eNvironmental Sensing systEm

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - DENSE (aDverse wEather eNvironmental Sensing systEm)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2020-02-29

DENSE is developing an integrated sensor suite capable of operating in adverse weather. The project focuses on overcoming the problem of limited perception in restricted visibility conditions where accident risks are highest. The novel concept will enhance the sensor functional performance for all weather scenarios and increase the trust associated with the operation of vehicles. The sensor suite includes a novel multipurpose radar concept, an automotive LIDAR working in the short-wave infrared (SWIR) and a SWIR-camera suitable for automotive application. Without a highly reliable sensing system, automated driving in levels 4 and 5 will never be realised. The DENSE sensor suite will enable the higher driving automation levels under more environmental conditions.

The core activities of the project are to define requirements, specify, develop and validate a fused sensor suite with the best cost-benefit ratio, so that a broad market penetration of the novel all-weather sensor system can eventually be achieved.

The overall objectives are:
• To develop and demonstrate an all-weather sensor suite for traffic services, driver assistance and autonomous driving.
• Define functional requirements, specify, develop, test and validate a fused sensor suite with the best cost-benefit ratio.
• Promote the DENSE all-weather sensor system to facilitate and speed up the market introduction.

Key benefits for:
• EU citizens, through a radical improvement of transport safety and a new quality of life, i.e. for the ageing population.
• European economy, through new job and employment opportunities, bridging traditional engineering, software development and environment perception technologies.
• European industry, stimulating environment perception sciences, sensor and IT sectors, providing a large potential for innovation.
• Public finances, by curbing the energy spending through making vehicle and traffic management systems more cost effective.
For the last almost four years the DENSE consortium has been working on solving one of the biggest challenges for autonomous driving and automated vehicles – the reliability of the sensors in adverse weather conditions like snow, heavy rain and fog.
Each of these conditions has its own negative impacts on the functioning and the output of the various LiDAR, radar and camera sensors used in autonomous vehicles. In order to achieve a more robust environment perception DENSE developed new LiDAR, radar and camera sensors working in new wavelength areas and higher radar resolutions using Multiple-Input Multiple-Output technology. DENSE utilised novel sensor fusion techniques with deep learning via deep neural networks to combine the benefits of the various sensor types in the DENSE sensor suite.
DENSE validated and tested the performance of the all-weather sensor suite in the Fog Chamber in order to have the ability to test the developments under controlled conditions.
DENSE developed:
• a novel MIMO Radar Array with improved Resolution
• a novel Lidar camera in the SWIR range
• a novel Gated cam operating in the SWIR range
• a novel Road state sensor
• novel computation algorithms based on neural networks to filter the single sensor signals and to fuse the Information to an Environment representation reducing the effects of weather significantly.

With the DENSE development, for the first time a system could be developed and demonstrated that works under adverse weather conditions pushing detection to a Level that makes it possible to operate autonomous vehicles under such circumstances. The complete development was done in Europe making it possible to further develop and actually produce a System based on the DENSE prototypical implementation. The whole supply chain for such a Suite is gathered in the DENSE consortium. The results from DENSE are now put within the organisation towards serial production units to finally bring the developments on the streets in commercially available vehicles.
The main aim of DENSE is to improve the perception capabilities of sensors in all kinds of adverse weather and visibility conditions. DENSE strives to make a difference through both a) safely handling the complex task of autonomy by merging three different technologies and b) developing an all-weather sensor suite at a fraction of the cost. This will bring Europe to the forefront of the sensor market and DENSE partners will be in the position to offer a technology solution directly integrated to existing environmental perception systems.

Beyond state-of-the-art.
DENSE went beyond the state-of-the-art with its development in many areas.
• DENSE for the first time defined weather for the automotive context and published this.
• DENSE built up a testing facility on basis of the CEREMA platform to be able to consistently test and develop sensors under controlled conditions.
• DENSE developed sensors in the SWIR band. It developed novel detector hardware and lasers that work with it.
• DENSE is able to increase the used optical energy for detection by 50 times within eye safety limits.
• DENSE developed a road state sensor for vehicle fleets and utility vehicles for use in northern Europe.
• DENSE developed new improvement and fusion algorithms based on neuronal networks to compute the sensor Inputs into a perception model.

DENSE is a project that developed sensor technology especially for adverse weather and pushed it to the next level in perception. As such, the project makes significant progress towards the introduction of automated and autonomous vehicles. It is a cornerstone for the 24/7 365 days a year operation. It is for the first time opening a window to operate such systems under adverse and harsh conditions even human drivers don't want to operate their vehicles today. DENSE is therefore paving the way for a wider introduction of those systems that goes beyond an operation under defined conditions towards an operation under all conditions. It is thus on of the basic developments that help introducing the promises of autonomous mobility from secure supply chains to reduction of carbon emission to mobility for the elderly.