One of the major roadblocks for self-driving cars is the ability for their various sensors and cameras to see in poor weather, such as fog, rain or snow. It's why most testing of self-driving cars takes place in areas with fine weather throughout most of the year, such as Arizona and California.
There are companies working on solutions, however, one of which is TriEye. The Israeli startup has developed short-wave infrared (SWIR) technology that can see in poor visibility conditions, and Porsche has just acquired a minority stake via the company's first round of funding.
TriEye's technology, which relies on a unique, patent-pending semi-conductor design, has an added benefit. It makes it possible to manufacture SWIR HD cameras that outperform but cost a fraction of current offerings, Porsche said Wednesday in an announcement about its investment.
Other key investors include Intel and a state-owned Israeli venture capital fund.
“TriEye is a promising technology company led by an exceptionally strong team with experience in the areas of nano-photonics, deep learning and the development of semi-conductor components,” said Michael Steiner, who heads Porsche's R&D team.
Steiner said there was great potential for TriEye's technology in developing safer, more robust electronic driver assist and fully self-driving systems.
Fortunately, Porsche isn't looking to take the actual driving away from humans. The company has already demonstrated how self-driving systems can be used as an aid to make you a better driver. For example, its InnoDrive system uses GPS data to judge the angle, slope, and height of the road ahead. It then combines the data with information from a vehicle's sensors, considers the speed limit, and determines an appropriate cornering speed so you pass through smoothly.