Are Thermal Cameras The Safety Feature Self-Driving Cars Need?

Self-driving cars have been called the solution to human-caused vehicular troubles. They also been called a prime example of technology gone too far, unable to account for real-world decision-making and proper safety responses when the unpredictable happens.

There have been some recent crashes involving self-driving cars, and while some have been connected to human error, it’s clear that safety remains a paramount concern in the development of future autonomous transportation.

Getting it right is a serious challenge and lots of manufacturers and innovators see opportunities. The right sensors, combined with highly advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence will be imperative in making self-driving cars a safe and reliable part of the future.

Automobiles currently use numerous sensors to trigger various functions and alerts. These are the types of sensors found at www.select-controls.com, which, along with switches, must be precision manufactured and expertly installed. They play a vital role in many safety features in conventional and autonomous vehicles.

Now, thermal-imaging sensors may start to be included in self-driving systems. The primary advantage of detecting surroundings based on their temperature is giving an autonomous vehicle a different dimension of sight, which would enable a better understanding of the surrounding area. Thermal imaging can provide a better type of visibility in darkness and adverse weather conditions, such as blizzards, severe fog, and dust storms.

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The contrast of cold conditions during a snowstorm and the warmth of a deer’s body as it crosses a road is a clear picture when a system relies on heat to identify surroundings. That same situation is much harder to identify with a camera that relies upon visible light to translate surroundings and autonomously respond in an appropriate manner.

Thermal cameras are not new to the auto industry. Luxury car manufacturers, including BMW and Porsche have incorporated this technology into their safety sensor systems. Thermal imaging is not yet part of standard self-driving cars, though that could soon change as autonomous transportation advocates are eager to ensure that technology can provide answers to safety concerns.

Currently, most self-driving cars use conventional cameras, ultrasound, radar, lidar, and other detection mechanisms to identify and react to their surroundings. It may not be long before thermal cameras are added to the mix. Will such technology make a significant improvement in the safe operation of self-driving cars?

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