Autoliv and BMW to Present Night Vision System in Car

Stockholm, SWEDEN

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 13, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- Autoliv Inc. (NYSE:ALV) (Stockholm:ALIV) -- the worldwide leader in automotive safety systems -- has together with The BMW Group developed a system that will enable drivers to see up to 300 meters at night compared to not even 100 meters with existing low-beam headlights. The system will be shown for the first time at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September and will be introduced later this fall in the BMW 7 series as The BMW Night Vision System.

The key to the system's superior performance is the capability of the camera to sense heat from objects and living beings. The system is so sensitive that it can see in total darkness without any lamps or illumination. As a result, the field of vision is not dependent on or limited to the beam of the headlights or of an infrared (IR) light source as in other infrared night vision systems.

Autoliv's and BMW's long-range camera enables the driver not only to see farther than with traditional ``near-zone" infrared cameras, but the driver can also see the areas surrounding the road and detect animals and children running onto the road. The new camera has a wide-angle lens of 36 degrees, enough to cover the normal field of view of humans. The camera also has a digital zoom-in/zoom-out function that can be operated manually by the driver or automatically controlled by the speedometer and the steering wheel. For example, at 80 km/h the speedometer automatically zooms the display in to 24 degrees and enlarges objects in the distance. And if the road should bend, turning the steering wheel would pan the displayed image automatically 6 degrees to one side so the driver can easily follow curvy roads on the display, as well as the area next to these roads.

No blinding risk

Since the system does not depend on illumination, it cannot blind drivers in other vehicles or other road users, nor can lights from other vehicles blind Autoliv's system. Consequently, the system enables the driver to see equally well when using low beams as when using high beams.

This makes night driving more comfortable and safer. Generally, night driving is 2-3 times more risky than daylight driving, according to data from the U.S., and in Europe more than 20,000 people are killed every year in nighttime accidents and an additional 560,000 people are injured.

Tuned to detect pedestrians

The system is extremely good at detecting living beings, such as pedestrians, road cyclists, animals and children running onto the road. Their warm bodies make them shine on the display since the camera is particularly sensitive to the infrared wavelengths from humans and animals. This is another advantage thanks to the fact that the system is not based on reflection but rather on heat-radiation sensing.

The system can even detect pedestrians in difficult situations, for instance, when pedestrians walking on the curb are hidden in the lights of oncoming traffic. This is an important advantage because the risk of being killed in traffic is four times greater for pedestrians in darkness than in daylight.

Near-zone infrared systems that use reflection from infrared lamps could also help reduce these fatalities. However, long-range infrared systems such as Autoliv's and BMW's are especially effective for this purpose. According to American scientists, they enable the driver to detect pedestrians at an average distance of 165 meters as compared to less than half that distance (65 meters) for near-zone infrared cameras. This was a very compelling reason when Autoliv and The BMW Group chose to develop a long-distance system rather than just a near-zone camera.

Established technology with a twist

The night vision system that Autoliv and The BMW Group have developed is based on the infrared camera technology developed for other applications (e.g. jet aircraft). However, in order to apply this expensive technology to automobiles a whole series of changes were necessary. Several companies in both North America and Europe have been involved in this comprehensive redesign work, as described in a special document for the trade press (see .

The result is a robust system with a camera that is approximately half the size of the IR-cameras on the market when Autoliv started this development project in 1999. The overall dimensions of this camera are 58 mm (2.28 inches) high, 55 mm (2.1 inches) wide and 68 mm (2.67 inches) thick or approximately the size of two decks of cards. The weight has been reduced to less than 400 grams (14 ounces).

First active safety products

The Night Vision System is Autoliv's first product to go into serial production in a new development area: Active Safety. In this new area Autoliv is also studying other technologies such as radar systems and stereoscopic vision cameras.

Autoliv is also exploring the potential of using the next generation of the Night Vision System to automatically identify and warn the driver of potentially hazardous situations such as nearby pedestrians and animals. This will be easier to do using a heat-radiation-sensing system rather than a reflection-based, near-zone system.

 Autoliv Inc:
 -- Jan Carlson, Vice President Engineering, Tel: +46-8-587 20 656,
 The BMW Group:
 -- Frank Schloder, Press and Public Relations, Product Comm. 
    Tel: +49 89 382 20840, 


A detailed press kit with illustrations showing the system is available for downloading from BMW Group PressClub (

Autoliv Inc. develops and manufactures automotive safety systems for all major automotive manufacturers in the world. Together with its joint ventures Autoliv has 80 facilities with 40,000 employees in 30 vehicle-producing countries. In addition, the company has development and engineering centers in six countries around the world, including 20 test tracks, more than any other automotive safety supplier. Sales in 2004 amounted to US $6.1 billion. The Company's shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:ALV) and its Swedish Depository Receipts on the OM Stockholm Stock Ex-change (Stockholm:ALIV).

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