Cleaning the sensors of autonomous vehicles of water, dirt or other contaminants is critical to sensor performance and vehicle safety.
We spotted an opportunity to use ultrasonics to keep autonomous vehicle sensors clean, a technology TTP has decades of experience in but which is still relatively new to automotive manufacturers.
To de-risk this technology for our clients, we have created an ultrasonic cleaning Demo Kit. Sensor manufacturers can use this kit to experiment with ultrasonic cleaning and work out the requirements of different sensors.
Autonomous vehicles rely on a multitude of external sensors to ensure passenger safety – and the number of sensors per vehicle is trending upwards as the industry targets higher and higher levels of autonomy.
But if these sensors become covered in dust, water, or other contaminants, they may become unusable. This presents a critical safety hazard for companies in the autonomous vehicles sector. It is, therefore, paramount that the sensors are kept spotlessly clean to keep the vehicle on the road and passengers safe.
From air jets to wipers to liquid jets, multiple methods for sensor cleaning are available, but all of them have non-trivial drawbacks. For example, liquid jetting requires impractical quantities of cleaning fluid to be stored on-board, as some start-ups have found. Air jetting could require either passive air direction features that OEMs may reject because of their impact on the car design, or fan-driven airflow that is incredibly power intensive.
“TTP has developed an exciting ultrasonic cleaning technology that is applicable to a range of sensors of interest to North American Lighting. At this stage in our collaboration, we’ve been really impressed in the hands-on work we have been able to do with this solution, and with the professionalism and insight their Autonomous Tech team bring to any development question.”
TTP realised that there was a space in this market for a better solution and that ultrasonic cleaning could be it.
Ultrasonic vibration offers excellent cleaning performance via fluid atomisation. In addition, ultrasonic transducers consume little power and can be designed to meet a wide range of form factor requirements.
TTP has extensive experience in ultrasonic transducer development. This allowed us to quickly understand what such an ultrasonic cleaning solution for autonomous vehicle sensors would need to look like.
Yet, although the underlying materials and physics are well understood, for the automotive industry ultrasonic cleaning is still a new technology, and therefore understandably seen as risky.
To make the technology more accessible, we therefore designed and manufactured an ultrasonic cleaning Demo Kit that allows companies to familiarise themselves with our technology.
Ultrasonic Cleaning Demo Kit
Our ultrasonic cleaning technology rapidly and efficiently removes water, and other contaminants from a sensor lens.
This kit can also be used experimentally to determine specifications such as surface velocity for different use cases and to inform the development of future sensors with integrated ultrasonic cleaning. This reduces the risk of entering this technology space.
The ability to keep external sensors clean in all conditions could be a game-changer in the adoption of autonomous vehicles. Our ultrasonic cleaning Demo Kits can be supplied for evaluation.