The detection and recognition of objects is essential for the operation of autonomous vehicles and robots. Designing and predicting the performance of camera systems intended to supply information to neural networks and vision algorithms is nontrivial. Optimization has to occur across
many parameters, such as focal length, f-number, pixel and sensor size, exposure regime and transmission schemes. As such numerous metrics are being explored to assist with these design choices. Detectability index (SNRI) is derived from signal detection theory as applied to imaging systems
and is used to estimate the ability of a system to statistically distinguish objects , most notably in the medical imaging and defense fields .
A new metric is proposed, Contrast Signal to Noise Ratio (CSNR), which is calculated simply as mean contrast divided by the standard
deviation of the contrast. This is distinct from contrast to noise ratio which uses the noise of the image as the denominator [3,4]. It is shown mathematically that the metric is proportional to the idealized observer for a cobblestone target and a constant may be calculated to estimate SNRI
from CSNR, accounting for target size. Results are further compared to Contrast Detection Probability (CDP), which is a relatively new objective image quality metric proposed within IEEE P2020 to rank the performance of camera systems intended for use in autonomous vehicles . CSNR is shown
to generate information in illumination and contrast conditions where CDP saturates and further can be modified to provide CDP-like results.