The ability of thermal cameras to detect objects in any light conditions can help to improve the capabilities of automatic emergency braking systems.
As we have frequently discussed here, pedestrian deaths have increased dramatically over the past 10 years with 76% occurring at night. Up until now, most safety regulations have focused on drivers and governments around the world are beginning to implement regulations aimed at improving pedestrian safety. Early testing has shown the sensors and cameras currently used in the market for AEB systems do not work as well at night, said Appelman in an interview with Power & Motion. Therefore, new technology is needed to better protect VRU and meet mandates like that proposed by NHTSA.
AEB systems utilize various sensors to detect objects and automatically apply the brakes — many of which rely on use of hydraulic or pneumatic technology — if a driver does not take action to avoid hitting the detected object.
In order for AEB systems to make a braking decision, they have to first detect and classify an object, determining if it is a car, a person, a deer or something else. The system then needs to determine the distance of the object. “In order to make an act decision – automatically brake – you need to know [an object is] there, you need to know what it is, and you need to know how far away it is.”
In this interview, Appelman and Jensen dive into shortcomings of current sensor technology – some are great at sensing and ranging, but not classifying, some can do this better, but at a higher price point, and the all struggle to detect objects in all light conditions. Which is why Owl AI believes in the power of Thermal Imaging to complement existing technologies to deliver a comprehensive safety solution.
Further, reviewing the benefits of Thermal Imaging- particularly thermal cameras ability to see in complete darkness and blinding light, making them better able to detect objects in any light condition. “[Thermal cameras] do not need and are not affected by light,” said Appelman. “[They] operate in a totally different electromagnetic spectrum than [other technologies].”
“Thermal cameras] do not need and are not affected by light, [They] operate in a totally different electromagnetic spectrum than [other technologies]”Wade Appelman
In short, the lower cost of RGB and radar will benefit their continued use, but as new technologies like thermal become more widely used their costs will come down as well, helping to provide greater sensing and safety capabilities.
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