Combined RGB and IR imaging sensor

  • US 8,446,470 B2
  • Filed: 10/03/2008
  • Issued: 05/21/2013
  • Est. Priority Date: 10/04/2007
  • Status: Active Grant
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First Claim
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1. An imaging system suitable for use in a vehicle, said imaging system comprising:

  • an imaging sensor comprising a two-dimensional array of photosensing elements, said two-dimensional array comprising a plurality of sub-arrays, wherein each sub-array of said sub-arrays comprises four photosensing pixels, and wherein a first pixel of said sub-array primarily senses infrared radiation and a second pixel of said sub-array primarily senses red visible light;

    wherein said imaging sensor is configured to be disposed at a vehicle equipped with said imaging system and wherein, when said imaging sensor is disposed at the equipped vehicle, said imaging sensor has a field of view forwardly of the equipped vehicle through a windshield of the equipped vehicle;

    an image processor for processing image data captured by said imaging sensor, wherein said image processor processes outputs of said four photosensing pixels of said sub-array, said image processor processing an output of said first pixel of said sub-array to determine an infrared component of the imaged scene and said image processor processing an output of said second pixel of said sub-array to determine a red visible light component of the imaged scene;

    wherein, responsive at least in part to determination of a red visible light component of the imaged scene via said processing of the output of said second pixel of said sub-array and with said imaging sensor disposed at the equipped vehicle and viewing forwardly through the windshield, said imaging system is operable to detect at least one of (i) a headlight of a vehicle ahead of the equipped vehicle (ii) a taillight of a vehicle ahead of the equipped vehicle and (iii) a traffic sign;

    wherein a near infrared illumination source is disposed at the equipped vehicle and is operable to emit near infrared illumination to illuminate forward of the equipped vehicle to enhance nighttime viewing by said imaging sensor, and wherein said near infrared illumination source, when activated, illuminates at least a portion of the forward field of view of said imaging sensor with near infrared illumination; and

    wherein, responsive at least in part to determination of an infrared component of the imaged scene via said processing of the output of said first pixel of said sub-array and with said imaging sensor disposed at the equipped vehicle and viewing forwardly through the windshield, said imaging system is operable to detect reflections by objects located forward of the equipped vehicle of near infrared illumination emitted by said near infrared illumination source of the equipped vehicle.

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