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Title:
ULTRASOUND LENS STRUCTURE CLEANER ARCHITECTURE AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/026761
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
In described examples, a lens structure system (10) includes a lens structure (12) and a multi-segmented transducer (14) coupled to the lens structure (12). The multi-segmented transducer (14) includes multiple segments. For each segment, a respective first conductor (SIE) and a respective second conductor (SOE) are electrically coupled to the segment.

Inventors:
FEDIGAN, Stephen, John (8416 Hillendale Dr, Plano, TX, 75025, US)
MAGEE, David, Patrick (1108 Krum Court, Allen, TX, 75013, US)
LI, Yunhong (848 Snapdragon Ln, Plano, TX, 75075, US)
Application Number:
US2017/044807
Publication Date:
February 08, 2018
Filing Date:
August 01, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INCORPORATED (P.O. Box 655474, Mail Station 3999Dallas, TX, 75265-5474, US)
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS JAPAN LIMITED (24-1, Nishi-Shinjuku 6-chomeShinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-8366, JP)
International Classes:
B08B7/02; B08B1/04; B08B11/00
Foreign References:
US20120243093A12012-09-27
US20030214588A12003-11-20
US8385733B22013-02-26
US9228183B22016-01-05
US20090011243A12009-01-08
RU2393644C12010-06-27
US20080166113A12008-07-10
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIS, Michael, A., Jr. et al. (Texas Instruments Incorporated, P.O. Box 655474 Mail Station 399, Dallas TX, 75265-5474, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A lens structure system, comprising:

a lens structure;

a multi-segmented transducer coupled to the lens structure, comprising a plurality of segments; and

for each of the segments, a respective first conductor and a respective second conductor electrically coupled to the segment.

2. The system of claim 1, further comprising circuitry for applying a voltage to selected ones of the segments.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the circuitry for applying a voltage comprises circuitry for applying a voltage with standing wave signals.

4. The system of claim 2, wherein the circuitry for applying a voltage comprises circuitry for applying a voltage to all of the segments at a single time.

5. The system of claim 2, wherein the circuitry for applying a voltage comprises: circuitry for applying a voltage to a first subset of the segments at a first time; and circuitry for applying a voltage to a second subset of the segments at a second time.

6. The system of claim 1, further comprising circuitry for applying a voltage to respective selected ones of the segments at different respective times.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the circuitry for applying a voltage comprises circuitry for applying signals to achieve a different oscillatory response on the lens structure at each of the different respective times.

8. The system of claim 7, wherein each different oscillatory response comprises a mode shape.

9. The system of claim 7, wherein each different oscillatory response comprises a mode shape from a set consisting of a mode (0,1) shape and a mode (1,1) shape.

10. The system of claim 7, wherein each different oscillatory response comprises a mode shape from a set consisting of a mode (0,1) shape, a mode (1,1) shape, and a mode (2,1) shape.

11. The system of claim 1, wherein the lens structure comprises a lens cover.

12. The system of claim 1, wherein the lens structure comprises a camera lens.

13. The system of claim 1, wherein the segments comprise four segments.

14. The system of claim 1, wherein the lens structure comprises a circular lens structure.

15. A camera assembly, comprising:

a camera;

a lens structure adjacent the camera;

a multi-segmented transducer coupled to the lens structure, comprising a plurality of segments; and

for each of the segments, a respective first conductor and a respective second conductor electrically coupled to the segment.

16. The assembly of claim 15, wherein the lens structure is selected from a set comprising a lens cover and a camera lens.

17. A method of removing debris from a lens structure, the method comprising:

applying a voltage to selected segments of a multi-segmented transducer; and

coupling waves from the multi-segmented transducer to the lens structure, in response to the voltage.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein: the multi-segmented transducer comprises a plurality of segments; and applying the voltage comprises applying the voltage to all of the segments at a single time.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein:

the multi-segmented transducer comprises a plurality of segments; and

applying the voltage comprises: applying the voltage to a first subset of the segments at a first time; and applying the voltage to a second subset of the segments at a second time.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein applying the voltage comprises applying the voltage to respective selected ones of the segments at different respective times.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein applying the voltage comprises applying signals to achieve a different oscillatory response on the lens structure at each of the different respective times.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein each different oscillatory response comprises a mode shape.

Description:
ULTRASOUND LENS STRUCTURE CLEANER ARCHITECTURE AND METHOD

[0001] This relates generally to various systems where debris or contaminants are to be removed from lens-related apparatus, and more particularly to an ultrasound architecture and method.

BACKGROUND

[0002] In this description, a lens structure includes a lens, lens cover, or other surface through which a signal (e.g., light) may pass, and where the apparatus is exposed to potential contaminants that may reduce the likelihood of successful signal passage through the apparatus. As one prominent example, in the automotive industry, cameras are assuming an important role in both Driver-Assisted Systems (DAS) and automatic safety systems. This technology commonly first appeared in relatively expensive vehicles and has migrated to less expensive ones. Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mandated that all new cars must be outfitted with rear view cameras by 2018. Cameras are also now being incorporated into side view mirrors to assist drivers with lane changes and currently under consideration by at least one automobile manufacturer is the possible replacement of vehicle side view mirrors with side view cameras. Besides alleviating blind spots for the driver, front cameras integrated into the windshield provide Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Following Distance Indication (FDI), and Lane Departure Warnings (LDW).

[0003] In the above-described context and others, and as the trend toward additional lens structure increases or becomes more ubiquitous, keeping the lens structure (e.g., lenses and lens covers) free of contaminants becomes a more prevalent need and is particularly important in safety-related applications. In a convention approach, several manufacturers have considered a miniature spray and wiper system. However, this design requires: (a) a small pump and nozzle; (b) a motorized wiper assembly; and (c) running a hose from a fluid tank to the location of the nozzle, which may necessitate a run from the vehicle front where a fluid tank is typically located, to the vehicle back, at least for the rear view camera, which is typically located at the rear of the vehicle. As a result, this design is mechanically complex and potentially expensive.

SUMMARY

[0004] In described examples, a lens structure system comprises a lens structure and a multi-segmented transducer coupled to the lens structure. The multi-segmented transducer comprises a plurality of segments. For each of the segments, a respective first conductor and a respective second conductor are electrically coupled to the segment. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0005] FIG. 1 A illustrates a perspective exploded view of a preferred embodiment system.

[0006] FIG. IB illustrates a top view of the ultrasonic transducer of FIG. 1 A.

[0007] FIG. 1C illustrates the lens cover affixed atop the upper annular surface of an ultrasonic transducer.

[0008] FIGS. 2A and 3A illustrate perspective views of a membrane MEM and its mode shape diagrams of a first mode (0,1) shape

[0009] FIGS. 2B and 3B illustrate side views of a membrane MEM and its mode shape diagrams of a first mode (0,1) shape.

[0010] FIGS. 4A and 5A illustrate perspective views of a membrane MEM and its mode shape diagrams of a second mode (0,2) shape

[0011] FIGS. 4B and 5B illustrate side views of a membrane MEM and its mode shape diagrams of a second mode (0,2) shape.

[0012] FIG. 6 illustrates a preferred embodiment transducer and biasing conductors connected thereto.

[0013] FIGS. 7A and 7B illustrate a first oscillatory cycle in perspective and horizontal views of a mode (1,1) shape.

[0014] FIGS. 8A and 8B illustrate a second oscillatory cycle in perspective and horizontal views of a mode (1,1) shape.

[0015] FIG. 9 illustrates a top view of the two separate oscillating regions ORi and OR 2 , about line DLi, as achieved in FIGS. 7A and 7B.

[0016] FIG. 10 illustrates a top view of two separate oscillating regions OR 3 and OR 4 , about a line DL 2 , as achieved 90 degrees rotated and with alternative biasing relative to FIGS. 7A and 7B.

[0017] FIG. 11 illustrates a preferred embodiment method of operating the system of FIG. 1.

[0018] FIG. 12 illustrates a coverage map of a preferred embodiment lens cover for three separate mode shapes: (0,1), followed by (1,1) relative to a first nodal line (e.g., FIG. 9), followed by mode (1,1) relative to a second nodal line (e.g., FIG. 10).

[0019] FIG. 13 illustrates a top view representation of a mode (2, 1) shape.

[0020] FIG. 14 illustrates a coverage map of a preferred embodiment lens cover for the mode shapes of FIG. 12, followed by an additional mode (2,1) shape.

[0021] FIG. 15 illustrates an electrical block diagram of a driver architecture that may be used to drive the conductors of a segmented transducer according to a preferred embodiment.

[0022] FIG. 16 illustrates a preferred embodiment vehicle V with multiple implementations of the system of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODFMENTS

[0023] FIGS. 1A through 1C illustrates various views of a lens structure cleaning system 10 according to a preferred embodiment. For example, FIG. 1A illustrates system 10 in a perspective exploded view, thereby separately illustrating a lens cover 12 that is to be coupled to of an ultrasonic transducer 14, that is, affixed in some manner (e.g., atop an upper annular surface, directly, or indirectly through an additional member(s)) of an ultrasonic transducer 14 so that vibrations from ultrasonic transducer 14 may be transmitted either directly, or indirectly via any intermediate apparatus, to lens cover 12. FIG. IB illustrates a top view of just ultrasonic transducer 14, and FIG. 1C illustrates lens cover 12 after being affixed atop the upper annular surface of an ultrasonic transducer 14, as may be achieved via various adhesives that may be selected. Various aspects of system 10 are further described hereinbelow, with reference to all three of these drawings.

[0024] Lens cover 12 represents any type of conventional lens structure. In the example of system 10, lens cover 12 is a disc with a transparent center section 12sc (shown with a contrasting shading for distinction to the remainder) and an outer annular ring 12AR that surrounds transparent center section 12 S c- Generally, light in the visible spectrum may readily pass through transparent center section 12sc, while it is otherwise blocked by outer annular ring 12AR. In this manner, and while not shown, a camera, and its respective lens, may be placed proximate lens cover 12, so generally light may pass through transparent center section 12sc so as to reach the camera lens, but the lens is otherwise protected by the additional surface provided by lens cover 12. In many environments, transparent center section 12sc may become occluded by the presence of additional contaminating matter (e.g., dirt, water, other airborne constituents) so that light is partially or fully blocked from passing through that section, and the preferred embodiments endeavor to reduce or dispel such matter from the surface of lens cover 12.

[0025] Transducer 14, in a preferred embodiment, is formed from a cross-section of a cylindrical piezoelectric material, and it preferably has an outer diameter smaller than the outer diameter of lens cover 12. For example, the outer diameter of transducer 14 may be 10 to 30 mm, while the larger outer diameter of lens cover 12 may be 12 to 35 mm. Thus, after being assembled (e.g., FIG. 1C), the outer perimeter of lens cover 12 extends in some margin beyond the outer diameter of transducer 14. As described hereinbelow, such a configuration may improve the effectiveness of standing waves transmitted from transducer 14 to lens cover 12, thereby improving the ability to dispel contaminants from the surface of that lens cover. Transducer 14 is a segmented transducer, as defined by having plural circular sectors, each having a pair of conductors so as to apply a voltage to the sector. In the example illustrated, transducer 14 has four such segments (or sectors), shown in FIG. IB as Si, S 2 , S 3 , and S 4 , each consisting of approximately 90 degrees of the entire 360 degree circular cross-sectional perimeter of the transducer. Each segment S x has an outer electrode SOE x and an inner electrode SIE X , as may be achieved by silk-screening or otherwise attaching a thin conductive material to the respective outer and inner diameter of the piezoelectric material. As shown in a later FIG. 6, electrical connectors/wires may be connected to each of the illustrated electrodes, thereby permitting signals to be applied, and alternated in amplitude, sign, and frequency, so as to achieve various preferred embodiment aspects further described hereinbelow.

[0026] In view of the preferred embodiment apparatus described hereinabove, transducer 14 may be excited with various signals so as to communicate vibrational forces into the abutted lens cover 12. Such waves may be communicated in three different vibration modes, namely, radial mode at low frequencies (e.g., 44 kHz) and which are along the radii of the circular cross section of transducer 14, axial mode at relative middle frequencies (e.g., 250 kHz), which are in the direction of the axis of the cylindrical transducer (i.e., vertical in FIGS. 1A-1C), , and a wall mode at higher frequencies (e.g., 2 MHz), which are modes that represent the radial motion of the wall thickness with respect to the outer wall of transducer 14. In a preferred embodiment, axial mode vibrations are preferred, as they are likely to cause vibrations that are tangential from the surface of lens cover 12, thereby providing a greater likelihood of dislodging certain contaminants (e.g., dust, water) from that surface. Frequency ranges of the various mode types may overlap. For example, high order radial modal frequencies will overlap with the axial modal frequencies, and high order axial modal frequencies will overlap with wall modal frequencies. However, in practice, this is not normally an issue because as mode orders increase, so does the modal damping.

[0027] Further to the example hereinabove, also in the preferred embodiment, the vibrational forces are applied at excitation amplitudes and frequencies so as to transmit standing waves into the desirably chosen circular membrane shape of the abutted lens cover 12. In certain areas of physics, a standing wave is a stationary vibrational pattern created within a medium when two waves of the same frequency propagate through the medium in opposite directions. As a result, regions of minimum displacement (e.g., nodes) and regions of maximum displacement (e.g., anti -nodes) are created at fixed locations in the medium. As a result, the waves cause displacement along the medium (i.e., lens cover 12 in this instance), yet at the physical locations where wave interference occurs, little or no movement occurs. Accordingly, in a circular membrane as exists in the preferred embodiment, where standing waves are so transmitted, certain mode shapes exist of the vibrational tendencies and movements of the surface being vibrated. Each mode shape is identified by a convention of mode (d,c) shape, where d is the number of nodal diameters across the membrane surface, and c is the number of nodal circles at or within the perimeter of the circular membrane, where the term nodal (or node) refers to a point, line, or circle on the structure that has zero amplitude vibration, that is, it does not move, while the rest of the structure is vibrating. Various examples of mode shapes are described hereinbelow.

[0028] To further introduce mode shapes and various preferred embodiment aspects, FIGS. 2A and 3A illustrate perspective views, and FIGS. 2B and 3B illustrate side views, of a membrane MEM and its mode shape diagrams of a first mode (0,1) shape that may be achieved by applying a voltage to the multiple-segmented transducer 14 of the preferred embodiment as if it were a single segmented transducer; such an effect may be achieved, therefore, by applying a first sine wave potential to all of its outer electrodes and a second sine wave potential, 180 degrees offset from the first sine wave (also achievable by a cosine counterpart to the sine), to all of its inner electrodes, where both sine waves have a same first modal frequency. Alternatively, the effect may be achieved by applying a sine wave potential to all of the outer electrodes while connecting the inner electrodes to ground (or, vice versa, that is, grounding the outer electrodes and connecting the same sine wave to all inner electrodes). A modal frequency is one of the resonant frequencies for the system under consideration (i.e., here, lens cover 12), where the particular resonant frequency, among multiple resonant frequencies of the system, causes the shape of the respective mode. Therefore, FIGS. 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B represent an instance where transducer 14 receives a voltage and first modal frequency, / m( o , i ) , which creates mode (0,1) shape, also known as a "cupping" mode, as further described hereinbelow.

[0029] The depictions of FIGS. 2A and 3 A are generally representative of a perspective circular shape as shown by concentric circles between a center point and the outer perimeter. Radial lines are also shown, and if the shape were flat such lines would be straight. However, a curved radial line suggests movement along the line. Therefore, FIG. 2A illustrates a first extreme of the oscillatory movement of member MEM, where the surface bends upward (e.g., for reference, in a positive direction) with a peak elevation at the center of the shape (also shown by light gray shading). The upward bend is also shown in the counterpart side view of FIG. 2B, which shows the mode surface as contrasted to a horizontal, or flat, reference line RL that is shown by a dashed line. In opposite fashion, FIG. 3A illustrates a second extreme of the oscillatory movement of member MEM, where the surface bends downward (e.g., for reference, in a negative direction) also with a peak elevation at the center of the shape (also shown by dark gray shading). The downward bend is also shown in the counterpart side view of FIG. 3B.

[0030] In view of FIGS. 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B, the reference of a mode (0,1) indicates zero (i.e., d=0) nodal diameters and a single (i.e., c=\) nodal circle, the former shown as Di. The location of the nodal circle will depend on the conditions at the boundary of the membrane, where the illustrations assume that boundary is claimed; however, if the boundary were not claimed, the radial location of the nodal circle will change. Accordingly, as member MEM oscillates between the extreme positions shown in the drawings, a single circle, around the outside perimeter, does not vibrate. The vibrations inside nodal circle with diameter Di, therefore, will have some efficacy in removing contaminants that are on the surface of member MEM, but any matter that lands at (or near) the nodal circle with diameter Di may not experience sufficiently high acceleration to be removed. Further, material in high vibration zones may be pushed into these nodal circles. Also, a singular mode (0,1) has a limited area on membrane MEM that may reach a desirable amount of axial acceleration, thereby limiting the ability of the membrane to dispel contaminants.

[0031] Also, for example, FIGS. 4A and 5A illustrate perspective views, and FIGS. 4B and 5B illustrate side views, of a membrane MEM and its mode shape diagrams of a second mode (0,2) shape that may be achieved by applying a voltage to the multiple-segmented transducer 14 of the preferred embodiment again as if it were a single segmented transducer, by again applying respective 180 degree out-of-phase sine waves to all of its outer electrodes and to all of its inner electrodes, but here at a second modal frequency, m (o,2), which creates mode (0,2) shape, as further described hereinbelow.

[0032] The depictions of FIGS. 4A and 5A are again representative of a perspective circular shape as shown by concentric circles and radial lines, where FIG. 4A illustrates a first extreme of the oscillation, and FIG. 5A illustrates a second and opposite extreme of the oscillation. In the first extreme shown in FIG. 4A, and in the counterpart horizontal plot of FIG. 4B, membrane MEM has a peak positive amplitude extending upward at the center of the shape, while at the same time membrane MEM also extends downward below the reference line RL, beyond the radii that is larger than a nodal circle with diameter D 2 . In opposite fashion, in the second extreme shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B, membrane MEM has a peak negative amplitude extending downward at the center of the shape, while at the same time membrane MEM also extends upward above the reference line RL, beyond the radii that is larger than the nodal circle with diameter D 2 . Thus, as indicated by the (0,2) reference, the mode shape of these drawings has (i.e., d=0) nodal diameters and two (i.e., c=2) nodal circles, one nodal circle at the outer perimeter shown with diameter Di, and the other nodal circle as described hereinabove with diameter D 2 , where the surface of membrane MEM having a diameter less than D 2 bend in a first direction, while the surface of membrane MEM having a diameter greater than D 2 bend in a second direction, opposite the first direction. Such an approach also will have some efficacy in removing contaminants that are on the surface of member MEM, but contaminants may tend to remain at both nodal circles with diameters Di and D 2 and a singular application of the mode (0,2) shape will have limited acceleration across much of the area of membrane MEM.

[0033] Accordingly, certain modes achievable by transducer 14, if operated by applying voltages to multiple segments at the same time so as to function as a single segmented transducer, result in axle symmetric mode shapes. For example, the (0,1) shape has a single outer nodal circle with diameter Di at its perimeter, and inside that perimeter the flexing is circularly symmetric as shown by the comparable concentric circles with radii inside that outer nodal circle. As another example, the (0,2) shape also has an outer nodal circle at its perimeter, within which the flexing of the membrane is again along equally flexing radii, but where the flexing can be in opposite directions, relative to an inner concentric nodal circle with diameter D 2 . However, such symmetry in the flexing may be less likely to expel certain contaminants from lens cover 12, or it may tend to accumulate contaminants in nodal points or circles. The preferred embodiments include additional modes of operation, therefore, so as to achieve improved results over these considerations, as further described hereinbelow.

[0034] FIG. 6 again illustrates transducer 12 in the same general manner as depicted in FIG. IB, although in FIG. 6 the illustration is rotated for sake of reference, and conductors are shown connected to pairs of respective segment outer electrodes SOE x and inner electrodes SIE X . Moreover, a potential is defined between each paired set of conductors. For example, the voltage between outer electrode SOEi and inner electrode SIEi is defined as v S i. Also, the (+) and (-) conventions define a polarity for sake of reference, but (as described hereinbelow) not to suggest that the outer electrode is always positive with respect to its inner counterpart. Therefore, to further illustrate this convention, a voltage of +1V applied to vsi suggests that the one volt is positive to outer electrode SOEi relative to inner electrode SIEi, while a voltage of -IV applied to v S i suggests that the one volt is negative to outer electrode SOEi relative to inner electrode SIEi.

[0035] In view of the description hereinabove, while all sets of conductors of transducer 12 may receive a voltage at a single time, such as described hereinabove, a conductor subset also may receive a voltage in a preferred embodiment. For example, a sine wave at a modal resonant frequency m (i , i) ma Y be applied to one pair of conductors/electrodes, with a 180 degree opposite phase sine wave at the same resonant frequency m (i , i) applied to an opposing pair of conductors/electrodes. Thus, in a preferred embodiment, a first phase of the sine wave is applied to v S i, while a second phase of the sine wave, 180 degrees apart from the first phase, is applied to v S3 ; at the same time, no voltage is applied to vs 2 or vs 4 . With this voltage application, a mode (1,1) shape is achieved, as shown in a first oscillatory cycle in perspective and horizontal views in FIGS. 7 A and 7B, and in a second oscillatory cycle in perspective and horizontal views in FIGS. 8 A and 8B. As shown in those drawings, in mode (1, 1) shape, membrane MEM again has a nodal circle around its outer perimeter. Also, however, one diameter line DLi represents a nodal line, as oscillations occur left and right of that line, due to the voltage applied to of opposing pairs of conductors/electrodes as described hereinabove (e.g., to vsi and vs 3 ). Thus, to further illustrate additional aspects hereinbelow, the alternative oscillations about diameter line DLi also may be represented in a top view, as shown in FIG. 9, which generally illustrates the two separate oscillating regions ORi and OR 2 , about line DLi.

[0036] The mode (1, 1) shape described hereinabove does not include symmetric nodal circles of the mode (0,2) described hereinabove, so advantages are achieved by implementing the mode (1,1) shape with vibrating lens cover 12 via transducer 14, because such implementation does not have an inner ring as represented by the inner nodal circle with diameter D 2 described hereinabove. Accordingly, expelling contaminants may be achieved in a fashion that is more likely to avoid circular residue. However, in a further aspect of the preferred embodiment, at an alternative time, the same sine wave/off phase voltage at a frequency m( i , i ) 1S applied to conductor/electrode pairs with signals vs 2 and vs 4, while at the same time no voltage is applied to vsi or vs 3 , instead of only applying voltage to conductor/electrode pairs with signals v S i and v S3 at a frequency m (i , i) an d with a sine wave 180 degrees out of phase with respect to the two signals. Such an approach yields the result illustrated in FIG. 10, where again a mode (1,1) shape is achieved with the two separate oscillating regions OR 3 and OR 4 , about a single nodal line DL 2 , but the nodal line and oscillating regions are rotated 90 degrees relative to FIG. 9. Therefore, the vibration and acceleration forces imposed on lens cover 12 in FIG. 9 (at regions ORi and OR 2 ) are in different locations (i.e., 90 degrees offset) than at regions OR 3 and OR 4 in FIG. 10. Accordingly, in a preferred embodiment, a switching driver architecture is implemented to switch between these two (or other) alternatives, so as to achieve the advantages of more than one vibrational mode, as described hereinbelow.

[0037] FIG. 11 illustrates a preferred embodiment method 20 of operating system 10. For example, method 20 may be controlled by a processor, controller or other circuit or device, as may be hardwired or programmed by suitable techniques. Also, for example, such control advances method 20 so as to apply transducer voltages to selective ones (or all) of the conductors/electrodes of system 10, so as to alternate between different mode shapes created in lens cover 12, via standing waves applied to it from transducer 14. In combination, therefore, the standing waves increase the ability to accelerate the surface of lens cover 12 so as to achieve a desirably sufficient amount of acceleration coverage across a majority of the area of the cover. As a result, the accelerated movement of the lens cover increases the chances of dispelling portions of any contaminants along a majority of the area of the cover. Additional details follow.

[0038] Method 20 commences with a start step 22, which may be initiated by various apparatus or events, when desired to start an attempt to remove particulate from lens cover 12 by vibrating it via transducer 14. For example, where lens cover 12 is part of an automotive application as described hereinabove and further described hereinbelow, start step 22 may be user actuated, such as by an operator of the automobile, or a processor can initiate the step in response to a condition, such as at system start-up, or after the passage of time, or response from a sensor or upon detection of some other event, such as rain, that might cause some matter (e.g., water) to come in contact with the exterior of lens cover 12. In any event, after step 22 is enabled, method 20 has begun, after which method 20 continues from step 22 to step 24.

[0039] In step 24, a mode counter md is initialized to a value of one. As described hereinbelow, mode counter md increments, and thereby provides a count, up to a total number of modes TIM that are shaped onto lens cover 12, by transducer 14, in cyclic and alternating fashion, so as to attempt to remove contaminants from lens cover 12. Next, method 20 continues from step 24 to step 26.

[0040] In step 26, voltage is applied to a set of selective ones or all of the electrodes of transducer 14, via the respective conductors connected to those electrodes, so as to achieve a mode, indicated as MODE[™/J, meaning according to the index provided by counter md. Thus, for a first occurrence of step 26, then a first mode (z ' .e., MODE[l]) is effected by applying the necessary voltage signals to a first set of electrodes so as to accomplish that mode. In at least one example, the first mode is the application of the mode (0,1) shape, described hereinabove in connection with FIGS. 2A, 3A, 2B and 3B. To achieve this mode, all outer electrodes SOE x receive a voltage of a first sine wave, while all inner electrodes SIE X receive a voltage of a second sine wave of the same sample amplitude as the first sine wave, but with the two waves phase offset by 180 degrees; moreover, both sine waves are applied with a frequency m (o , i), which is the resonant frequency of system 10 required to achieve the mode (0,1) shape. Lastly, step 26 applies the signals to the selected set of conductor/electrodes for a number indicated as MC cycles, that is, for a duration of input sign waves equal to MC periods or cycles. The value of MC may be selected by various considerations. For example, MC may be based on a pre-programmed value or on a feedback signal {e.g., modal resonance frequency which will return to a baseline value as contaminant mass is ejected from the surface), or from information from a camera system (from which a determination is possible about whether a sufficiently clear image is obtained through the lens). After the MC cycles at the current MODE[™i] have been achieved, method 20 continues from step 26 to step 28.

[0041] In step 28, a condition is evaluated to determine whether the mode counter md has reached a total number of modes TLM that are desired to be shaped onto lens cover 12, by transducer 14. If md is less than TLM, then method 20 advances from step 28 to step 30, whereas if md equals TLM, then method 20 advances from step 28 to step 32. In step 30, the mode counter md is incremented and the flow returns to step 26. In a repeat of step 26, therefore, an additional set of selective ones or all of the electrodes of transducer 14 receive a voltage so as to achieve a next mode, indicated as MODE[md], which in the case of a first repetition of step 26 will be the second mode, that is, MODE[2]. In at least one example, the second mode is the application of the mode (1,1) shape, described hereinabove in connection with FIGS. 7A, 8A, 7B, 8B and 9. To achieve this mode, a first phase of the sine wave is applied to vsi, while a second phase, 180 degrees apart from the first phase, of the sine wave is applied to v S3 , while at the same time no voltage is applied to v S2 or v S4 , and both sine waves are applied with a Again, step 26 applies these signals to the selected set of conductor/electrodes for MC cycles, after which method 20 again continues from step 26 to step 28.

[0042] Step 28 is described hereinabove, as it evaluates the condition of whether the mode counter md has reached a total number of modes TIM that are desired to be shaped onto lens cover 12, by transducer 14. In view of the sequencing described herein, and the potential looping from step 28 not being satisfied and returning to step 26 one or more times for the application of respective additional modes, TIM may be set to any number with a corresponding indication of each MOOE[md] to be applied for each incidence of step 26. Continuing with this example, after a first occurrence of step 26 applies the mode (0,1) shape and a second occurrence of step 26 applies the mode (1,1) shape per FIG. 9 {i.e., applying vsi and the 180 degree apart vs 3 ,), with TIM set to three a third occurrence of step 26 may be reached to apply the mode (1,1) shape per FIG. 10 {i.e., applying vs 2 and the 180 degree apart vs 4 ). In this case, after the third occurrence, the condition of step 28 is satisfied and method 20 continues to step 32.

[0043] In step 32, a condition is evaluated to determine whether a sufficient duration of cycles has been applied by the preceding occurrence(s) of step 26. In relation to this step, each incidence of step 26 excites transducer 14 to apply a standing wave mode shape to lens cover 12, for a total of MC cycles per step 26 incidence. Each of these MC cycles, therefore, endeavors to clear contaminants from the surface of lens cover 12. Depending on the number of cycles per step 26 incidence, and the number of step 26 occurrences, repeating the occurrence(s) of step 26 may be desirable for all TIM modes MODE[md one or more additional times, in an ongoing effort to clear contaminants from the surface of lens cover 12. Thus, the step 32 condition may use duration (or some other measure) as a basis to evaluate whether to repeat the occurrence(s) of step 26 for all modes MODE[md\. If such a repetition is desired, method 20 returns from step 32 to step 24, whereas if step 32 is satisfied, then method 20 ends in step 34. While method 20, therefore, concludes with step 34, it may be subsequently re-started by returning to step 22, by one of the actions as described hereinabove with respect to that step.

[0044] In view of the description hereinabove, with TIM=3 and the modes described, that method 20 applies a sequence of three different modes, each for MC cycles, so as to vibrate lens cover 12 in differing fashions. Further, acceleration from modal vibration may be represented by the following Equation 1 : a ( d ,c) ( r ' Θ) = ^( djC ) 2 z (d c) (r, Θ) Equation 1

where: a(¾ C) is acceleration for a mode (d,c); C0(¾ C ) is resonance frequency for a mode (d,c); and Z(d,c ) (r,0) is the mode shape for mode (<i,c) which is a function of the radius r from the center and the angle Θ about the circumference with respect to a reference angle {i.e., vertical displacement in a polar coordinate system).

[0045] From Equation 1, therefore, acceleration is a function, in part, of the frequency squared. Moreover, in each of the multiple different modes, one area of lens cover 12 will achieve a maximum or peak acceleration, while various other areas of the lens cover will achieve some lesser percentage of that peak. In an effort to achieve the greatest likelihood of dispelling contaminants, therefore, a greater percentage of peak acceleration across a greater area of lens cover 12 is likely to be desirable. FIG. 12 illustrates a coverage map of lens cover 12 where a region RNi represents the area where acceleration of the lens cover surface reaches at least 75% of its peak value. Region RNi corresponds to the example described hereinabove, where TLM=3 and the three separate mode shapes applied (by respective incidences of step 26) are mode (0, 1), followed by mode (1, 1) relative to a first nodal line (e.g. , FIG. 9), followed by mode (1,1) relative to a second nodal line (e.g. , FIG. 10), where the second nodal line is orthogonal to the first nodal line. Visually, therefore, FIG. 12 represents a considerable amount of coverage area where acceleration of at least 75% of peak may be sufficient to dislodge or expel surface contaminants. Indeed, in connection with this preferred embodiment, 60% of the entire area of the lens cover 12 is expected to reach at least 75% of peak acceleration. Further, alternative results may be achieved by altering the number of and/or types of modes applied. Indeed, as more modes are included in an application of method 20, and for a given acceleration threshold (e.g., 75% of acceleration peak for the above-described example), as more modes are added, the area coverage monotonically increases. Therefore, transducer 12 may receive voltage to achieve a mode (2, 1) shape, which FIG. 13 illustrates in a top view representation. The mode (2,1) shape has two nodal lines DL 3 and DL 4 and a single outer perimeter nodal circle. With the two nodal lines DL 3 and DL 4 , four separate oscillating regions OR 5 , OR 6 , OR 7 and ORs, occur, and these regions therefore may be added to the regions covered by the above-described modes, such as by increasing TIM to four and adding the FIG. 13 mode as yet another mode in method 20. Accordingly, FIG. 14 illustrates a coverage map of lens cover 12 with a region RN 2 , again representing the area where acceleration of the lens cover surface reaches at least 75% of its peak value, where mode (2, 1) has been added as a fourth step 26 vibrational pattern, over and above the example described hereinabove and illustrated by acceleration area coverage in FIG. 12. By comparing FIG. 14 to FIG. 12, a confirmation may be obtained that the areal coverage is increased with additional mode (2,1). Also, the central area (where peak acceleration is not achieved as shown in FIG. 12) is considerably reduced in FIG. 14.

[0046] In view of the description hereinabove, the preferred embodiment provides numerous alternative sequences of mode shapes to accomplish varying acceleration areal coverage across lens cover 12. For example, the following Table 1 lists empirical numbers are an estimation of what may be achieved in one apparatus, where the maximum amplitude across all mode shapes is equal.

Table 1

[0047] Table 1 lists a percentage of the entire area of member MEM that experiences an acceleration that reaches or exceeds a percentage of peak acceleration. For example, according to the first row of Table 1, a peak acceleration occurs somewhere across lens cover 12 (i.e., member MEM) in response to the mode or modes applied to it by transducer 14, and if the preferred embodiment applies only the mode (0,1) shape as shown in the table second column (e.g., by a singular incident of step 26 in method 20), then 46% of the area of lens cover 12 is accelerated to at least 25% of that peak. However, as shown in the third column of the first row of Table 1, the areal coverage is increased considerably by adding two additional step 26 incidences, each to apply a respective one of the two orthogonal mode (0,1) shapes (see FIGS. 9 and 10); in this case, then more than a majority of the area, namely, 77% of the area of lens cover 12 is accelerated to at least 25% of that peak.

[0048] Still further, as shown in the fourth column of the first row of Table 1, the areal coverage is increased still further by adding an additional step 26 incidence to apply the mode (2,1) shape in addition to the (0,1) and two orthogonal mode (0,1) shapes, where 84% of the area of lens cover 12 is accelerated to at least 25% of that peak. The remaining examples of Table 1 should be readily understood. In each instance of the third and fourth columns, more than one-half of the area of the lens cover 12 reaches or exceeds the indicated peak threshold. Moreover, other combinations and numbers of mode shapes may be readily implemented per the preferred embodiments.

[0049] FIG. 15 illustrates an electrical block diagram of a driver architecture 40 that may be used to drive the conductors of a segmented transducer 14 according to a preferred embodiment. Architecture 40 includes an oscillating wave (e.g., sine wave) source 42, connected between a reference (e.g., ground) and an input to a single amplifier 44. The output of amplifier 44 is connected to a number NS of crossbar switches CSi through CSNS- Each crossbar switch CS X has an input IN X connected to the oscillating output of amplifier 44 and an inverted input INV X connected to ground. Moreover, each crossbar switch CS X has a first output SIE X for connecting to a respective inner electrode as described hereinabove in connection with FIG. 6, and a second output SOE x for connecting to an outer respective electrode as described hereinabove in connection with FIG. 6.

[0050] In operation, each crossbar switch CS X is operable, in response to a respective control signal CL X , to either: (a) pass its oscillating signal input IN X to its SIE X output, while connecting ground from its inverted input INV X to its SOE x output; or (b) cross-couple the ground signal from its inverted input INV X to its SIE X output, while connecting its input IN X directly to its SOE x output; or (c) present a high impedance state where its inputs IN X and INV X are not passed to either output. For example, therefore, to excite the mode (2, 1) shape with a four segment transducer, four crossbar switches would be required with the following Table 2 listing the appropriate control inputs to realize that mode shape:

Table 2

[0051] In Table 2, a control input of "P" indicates a direct pass through, while a control input of "X' indicates the crossbar operation, so the inputs are switched. Thus, Table 2 provides a same phase sine wave to opposing segments to segments Si and S 3 , while ground is applied to segments S 2 and S 4 , thereby transmitting standing waves so as to achieve the mode (2, 1) shape. Other examples exist.

[0052] FIG. 16 illustrates a preferred embodiment vehicle V with system 10 implemented in numerous locations relative to the vehicle V. For example, a forward facing camera may be installed as part of a system 10 in a mount located behind the windshield W of vehicle V. As another example, a respective rearward facing camera may be installed as part of a system 10 in each of the vehicle side mirror locations SMR, either in addition to or in lieu of an actual side mirror. As a final example, another rearward facing camera may be installed near or at the rear of the vehicle V, so as to assist with backup technology. Each system 10 communicates with a processor P, such as a controller, microcontroller, or the like, located either under the hood or inside the interior of the vehicle, where such communication as may be connected by some type of conductors, including a vehicle network system. In any event, each system 10 is operable to capture light signals as images, for various types of processing and/or display. Moreover, as described hereinabove, each such camera has a lens structure (e.g., lens, lens cover), and associated therewith is a transducer that is operable according to method 20 so as to reduce any contaminants on the surface of the lens structure.

[0053] Accordingly, the preferred embodiments are shown to provide an ultrasound lens structure cleaner and architecture method, either as a standalone unit or as part of a larger preferred embodiment system (e.g., a vehicle). Such preferred embodiments provide numerous benefits. For example, greater vibration coverage of the lens structure surface is achieved with high transverse amplitudes. As another example, greater acceleration coverage is achieved of the lens structure surface. As yet another example, strains may be developed in multiple directions, rather than just the axial direction, to promote cracking of dried materials. More particularly, besides high transverse acceleration (orthogonal to the surface), lateral strain can be developed, which may be important for cracking dried contaminants. Thus, strain may be imposed on the lens surface in both the radial and tangential directions. Thus, whereas due to the circular nature of the mode shape, strain is only applied in the radial but not in the tangential direction, the preferred embodiment may apply strain additionally in the tangential direction, so contaminants can be even more effectively removed. Specifically, asymmetric modes (e.g., mode (1, 1) shape) will apply strain in both directions, leading to more effective cracking. As still another benefit, a straightforward driver circuit may drive system 10, requiring only a single amplifier. Still further, the preferred embodiments are implemented without vibration or resonance frequency matching issues.

[0054] Modifications are possible in the described embodiments, and other embodiments are possible, within the scope of the claims.