NATICK, Mass. /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- Cognex Corp., a leading supplier of machine vision sensors and systems, announced that it has entered the emerging market for machine vision sensors in vehicles. These highly specialized sensors are installed in ordinary vehicles, ranging from long-haul trucks to passenger cars, where they automatically provide driver assistance by constantly analyzing the vehicle's external environment and warning the driver of potentially dangerous situations. To launch its entry into this new market, Cognex has acquired AssistWare Technology, Inc., a privately held developer of lane-departure warning systems.
AssistWare's SafeTRAC lane departure warning system, or LDW system, uses machine-vision technology to watch the road ahead and alert drivers if they unintentionally leave their lane or if their driving pattern becomes erratic. The product is about the size of a radar detector and mounts on the dashboard. Using a small video camera, a digital signal processor, and AssistWare's proprietary machine-vision algorithms, the LDW system determines the vehicle's position relative to the road and then sounds an alert if the vehicle unintentionally crosses into another lane or if it is drifting off the road.
"In-vehicle vision sensors represent a new market opportunity for Cognex, which in the future is expected to be very large and potentially quite profitable," said Dr. Robert J. Shillman, chairman and CEO of Cognex. "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, as we expand the technology and lower the price, we anticipate that these systems will become standard in all types of vehicles."
Dr. Shillman continued, "Various studies have identified numerous challenging applications for in-vehicle vision sensors; these include analyzing both the external and internal environment of each vehicle. In the near term, Cognex will focus on expanding the external analysis capabilities of AssistWare's product beyond LDW to include such features as collision warning, blind spot detection, headlight dimming, headlight aiming, rain detection/wiper control, and adaptive cruise control. In the longer term, we plan to develop and offer inward-looking sensors as well; these sensors will be able to do such things as recognize the driver and determine the size and position of each occupant for intelligent air-bag deployment."
AssistWare was founded in 1995 by researchers from Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. In addition to providing LDW products to commercial fleets, AssistWare is playing a major role in federally funded research on driver assistance technologies. The company was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to take part in a $25 million program to develop, deploy, and test a new integrated vehicle warning system to help drivers avoid accidents. More information about AssistWare can be found at www.assistware.com.
The acquisition of AssistWare was completed on May 22, 2006, for an undisclosed amount of cash. The acquisition is not expected to have a material impact on the company's current year financial results. Cognex will retain AssistWare's key employees and its current office in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, which will serve as the Advanced Research and Development center for Cognex's In-Vehicle Vision Sensors Business Unit. AssistWare's founder, Dr. Dean Pomerleau, a recognized expert with over 15 years of experience in the field, who has managed several multi-million dollar LDW studies for the U.S. Department of Transportation, will join Cognex to lead those R&D activities.
Dr. Shillman concluded, "With the acquisition of AssistWare, Cognex has obtained best-in-class lane-departure warning technology. Entering this new market is an important strategic move for our company as we continue to diversify and expand into areas outside of the factory floor."
Cognex Corp. designs, develops, manufactures, and markets machine vision sensors and systems or devices that can "see." Cognex vision sensors are used in factories around the world to automate the manufacture of a wide range of items and to ensure their quality. Cognex is a leader in the machine vision industry, having shipped more than 300,000 machine vision systems, representing over $2 billion in cumulative revenue, since the company's founding in 1981. In addition to its corporate headquarters in Natick, Mass., Cognex also has regional offices and distributors located throughout North America, Japan, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Visit Cognex on-line at www.cognex.com.