Thermal Cameras Might be the Key to Making Self-driving Cars Safe
【Summary】An Oregon based company claims that heat-seeking cameras should be incorporated into the current self-driving car setup to make these vehicles safer.
With the advances in autonomous technology, the automotive industry is paying more attention to the safety concerns that come with self-driving cars. Companies are trying to incorporate different technologies to make their cars safer and comply with a universal standard of safety regulations. Recently after the near-fatal crash of a self-driving Uber vehicle in Arizona, these concerns were further highlighted.
The company announced that it is suspending its test and will comply with National Transportation Safety Board during the investigation of the crash. The Lidar used by the company was not able to spot Herzberg in the dark. Speculations claim that it might be because of low resolution or technical blind spots that the operating system was not able to detect and therefore make the appropriate decision.
This proved that the existing technology is not enough to make self-driving cars a practical reality. As a solution to this problem, a company called Flir has proposed that heat-seeking cameras should be incorporated into the current self-driving car setup to make these vehicles safer. The head of product for the Oregon based company explains that thermal imaging cameras will eliminate search errors as they are capable of detecting objects which a standard Lidar will miss because of obstructions.
The application of thermal imaging cameras is not limited to just detecting body temperatures of human beings which would have come useful in avoiding the near-fatal crash in Tempe. Heat-seeking cameras can detect temperature differences as low as 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only will these cameras be able to detect human bodies but with a well-calibrated database, they will also be able to detect and distinguish between a wide range of objects.
Lidar uses a laser shooting sensor to detect objects. This technology might malfunction if the view is obscured by fog or direct sunlight falling through the lens. As heat-seeking cameras use infrared light to distinguish between objects such obstructions do not affect the functionality of thermal cameras.
Technology behind thermal cameras has been intensively developed over the years. Heat-seeking cameras can distinguish victims trapped in burning areas, the technology is also used by Air Force to make the missiles to hit the target more accurately and even detect corroded fuses in electronics. At this point of development, heat-seeking technology has become highly refined and makes it a perfect fit for the automotive industry.
If Uber or any other car company incorporates this technology into its self-driving offerings, it won't be the first time infrared cameras have made their way into the automotive industry. Flagship luxury cars like BMW 7-Series have used heat-seeking cameras to detect obstacles like pedestrians and animals in dark areas where the driver might not be able to observe them using plain sight. However, heat-seeking cameras come with their own imperfections.
The technology is not cost effective however in comparison to Lidars the heat-sensitive cameras are relatively cheaper. The functionality of these cameras also has limitations. Heat-seeking cameras use infrared Rays to detect objects, but these waves are incapable of penetrating glass and it is at this point that these cameras will fail to function. Regardless it is possible that with effective machine learning and instantaneous exchange of data between Lidar and infrared cameras will make self-driving cars substantially safer.
Manish Kharinta is a automotive writer based in the Los Angeles area. He has worked for automotive industry websites TheSmokingClutch.com, CarDekho.com and CarBikeindia.com. His experience ranges from covering auto shows, to car reviews and breaking automotive news. Manish aims to bring forth his unique perspective on automotive design and technological innovations in the automotive industry.
Nissan will Unveil its New Fully-electric Ariya Crossover on July 15th
Lucid Motors Will Unveil its Luxury Electric Air Sedan on September 9th
BMW Announces Pricing for the X5 Plug-in Hybrid for North America
Pre-orders for Tesla’s Made-in-China Model Y Are Officially Open
Mercedes-Benz Officially Launches the EQV, its First Fully-Electric Passenger Van With a 100 kWh Battery
The First 'Polestar Spaces' in the U.S. Are Opening in California & New York City
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is Providing ‘Aerospace Ride-Sharing’ to San Francisco-based Earth Imaging Company Planet Labs
Tesla is Facing Growing Competition From Chinese EV Startup Xpeng Motors With its More Affordable P7 Sedan
- Ride-Hailing Company Lyft Vows to Switch to Fully-Electric Vehicles by 2030
- The New Polestar 2 EV Matches its Performance with Equally High Safety Standards
- General Motors is Finally Expanding Super Cruise to Chevrolet
- TuSimple Launches the World’s First Autonomous Freight Delivery Service
- Ford Motor Company is Using Simulation to Design the Passenger Experience for its Future Self-Driving Vehicles
- NHTSA Alters Safety Rules to Make Room for Self-Driving Cars
- Ford Motor Co is Working to Make Vehicles Much Quieter on the Inside
- Electric Vehicle Sales Are Expected to Fall by 18% in 2020, But the Long Term Outlook Remains Positive
- Goodyear’s Latest Tire Concept is Capable of Regenerating New Tread
- Missouri Attempts to Court Tesla With $1 Billion Package for Cybertruck Factory