Prevention of Snow Accretion on Camera Lenses of Autonomous Vehicles 2020-01-0105
With the rapid development of artificial intelligence, the autonomous vehicles (AV) have attracted considerable attention in the automotive industry. However, different factors negatively impact the adoption of the AVs, delaying their successful commercialization. Accretion of atmospheric icing, especially wet snow, on AV sensors causes blockage on their lenses, making them prone to lose their sight, in turn, increasing potential chances of accidents. In this study, two different designs are proposed in order to prevent snow accretion on the lenses of AVs via air flow across the lens surface. In both designs, lenses made of plain glass and superhydrophobic coated glass surfaces are tested. While some researchers have shown promise of water repellency on superhydrophobic surfaces, more snow accretion is observed on the superhydrophobic surfaces, when compared to the plain glass lenses. In the experiments, snow is formed using a novel snow gun inside a walk-in cold room connected to a wind tunnel that can reach wind speeds of up to 40 mph. It is observed that the air flow over the lens significantly reduces the accretion of snow on the lens and could maintain the lens clean for up to 20 mph wind velocities. However, at LWC values of approximately 28%, the stickiness of the snowflakes increases, enhancing snow accretion on the lenses and translating to significant loss of sight. The high stickiness of the snowflakes along with high wind speeds leads to increased blockage of the AV lenses.