SAE International: Owl AI’s 3D Thermal Sensors See Further into the Dark

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Sebastian Blanco

November 3, 2023

Automated driving systems benefit from longer-range sensing systems, and Owl says its thermal cameras can dramatically bolster a standard RGB system for just a few hundred dollars.

The race to develop low-cost and effective sensors for automated driving requires all-day effort. Getting sensors to accurately identify the world around them is easiest on a clear, sunny day, but that solves just part of the problem. One possible solution for driving in darker hours is thermal cameras, including those from the appropriately named Owl Autonomous Imaging. Owl is developing thermal-ranging 3D sensors that, the company claims, can detect objects in any light or visibility conditions.


"When RGB cameras fail to classify, thermal cameras continue to identify the object, and that’s the fundamental value proposition.”

Speaking at AutoSens Europe 2023, Owl co-founder and CEO Chuck Gershman said his company wanted to create 3D thermal cameras that can identify objects no matter the time of day or the weather because today’s sensing systems do not recognize pedestrians as well as they should.

“Generally speaking, if the sun’s out, no clouds, no fog or rain, [you’re] good to go,” Gershman said. “Turn out the lights, though, and that can be deadly.”

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