Cognex acquires in-vehicle vision-systems firm

By Control Engineering Staff May 30, 2006

Natick, MACognex Corp . moves into the emerging in-vehicle machine-vision systems field with its purchase of AssistWare Technology Inc ., a privately held developer of lane departure warning (LDW) systems for the heavy truck market. The equipment uses a small video camera and machine vision technology to watch the road ahead and alert drivers if they unintentionally leave a lane or their driving pattern becomes erratic.

The in-vehicle market for machine vision is “a large and exciting one,” said Cognex, and includes many potential applications beyond LDW, such as collision warning, blind spot detection, headlight dimming and aiming, and adaptive cruise control. The technology uses highly specialized sensors to provide driver assistance by constantly analyzing a vehicle’s external environment and warning of potentially dangerous situations.

“With the acquisition of AssistWare, Cognex has obtained best-in-class lane departure warning technology,” said Dr. Robert J. Shillman, Cognex chairman and CEO. “Our initial focus will be to serve the heavy truck market, which, with nearly 300,000 heavy trucks sold per year in the United States alone, represents significant market potential for Cognex. Over time, we anticipate that these systems will become standard in all types of vehicles, ranging from the heaviest long-haul trucks to the smallest commuter cars.”

According to a recent U.S. Department of Transportation study, LDW technology significantly reduces unintended lane departures, a major cause of truck accidents. AssistWare is also involved in federally funded research on machine-vision-based driver assistance technologies intended to help drivers avoid accidents.

The acquisition was completed last week for an undisclosed amount of cash. Cognex anticipates it will continue to develop, support, and market the LDW technology. It will retain AssistWare employees and current offices in Gibsonia, PA. AssistWare’s founder, Dr. Dean Pomerleau, a recognized expert in this field, will join Cognex and lead R&D activities in this area.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jeanine Katzel , senior editor