Building a vehicle parking camera


We’re never really sure what to call these things. When we say “back up camera” it sounds distinctly like a redundancy system for when the primary camera fails to work. But it is used for when you move in reverse in an automobile. [Jeremy Blythe] built the distance sensing video system using a Raspberry Pi board as the brain.

The flexibility of Linux and the power of the RPi board ended up making it pretty easy to get everything working together. He’s using a Microsoft Lifecam Cinema HD camera, which connects to one of the USB ports on the board. Just above that you can see the infrared distance sensor which is connected to the RPi’s GPIO header using one of Adafruit’s Pi Cobbler breakout boards. This also facilitates the connection to the 176×220 color LCD screen.

In the video after the break you can see [Jeremy] testing out the system by moving his hand in front of the sensor. Python is used to grab the image from the camera, draw a circle on it, and overlay the distance in centimeters at the bottom. Once his hand is within 30cm the overlay turns red and the work STOP is displayed. Pretty neat!


  1. Mike says:

    Does raspberry pi have enough juice for OpenCV? It would be pretty awesome to do a stereo-vision distance camera instead of the IR sensor.

    • Merlin says:

      That would be even better, since you could idealy pick the distance to any number of things. Perhaps you could have the pi print a message on one of those LED displays to tell tailgaiters to back the fuck up if they get too close.

      • RamenAlkemist says:

        I’ll be driving a big truck soon and an LED message system for tailgaters is something I’ve been trying to come up with.

        I’d really like to include pre-set messages that can be displayed at the push of a button.

  2. Jonathan Wilson says:

    I have usually heard these cameras referred to (in car ads and elsewhere) as reversing cameras. Nice hack too given that many cars dont have these (or only have these as an option costing $$$)

  3. eldorel says:

    I always preferred “rear-view camera”.

  4. not so funny man says:

    Who’s rear are you trying to view?

  5. Vom says:

    You have a typo on the second last line: “…the work STOP is displayed.”
    Perhaps you meant: “…the word STOP is displayed.”.

  6. Joejoedancer says:

    How about “Assisted Driving Camera”. Or “You are too lazy to use a rear view mirror so you use a camera, camera”.

    • Mental2k says:

      You use the rear view mirror for reversing a car? The field of view is bad enough when you turn round in most cars never mind trying to negotiate it in a mirror. These cameras seem like a idea brilliant if you have to parallel park in a city a few times daily.

      • Luke says:

        I don’t need a camera to see behind me – I need one to see to the left and right when backing out or a tight spot with monstrous, black-windowed SUVs on either side of me. I’d prefer to see a display with split screen to see both sides. A pair of little cameras that stick out the rear of the car when needed could do it.

        • Mental2k says:

          I love the idea of nose cameras to the side. Turning out of roads can be a bit like throwing caution to the wind when asshats decide that its okay to park right next to an opening.

  7. PU says:

    What about powerfull servo on break pedal?

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