Role of thermal cameras in preventing the next fatal autonomous vehicle crash

Thermal cameras are modern cameras which use the heat signatures of various objects. The first and the memorable invention on earth by man is the invention of the wheel. These wheels evolved into a small cart which had been used for centuries. In last century, there occurred the invention of the motor which ended up in the invention of the motor car. Those cars were reinforced by various technologies in order to make it speedier and more comfortable.


Role of thermal cameras in preventing the next fatal autonomous vehicle crash


Cars of the recent past have been built with various sophisticated technologies which make the job of the driver easier. Even though these technologies are almost infallible let us not place our complete trust over that lustrous mechanical piece. Accidents are prone to occur even if the system is completely reliable. Thermal imaging cameras used in the cars get the heat signatures of various objects on and around the road and sends it to the internal processor to see the scene in front of the car. Apart from thermal cameras, ordinary visible light cameras also play an extensive role in the autonomous driving of the vehicles.


As you know, GPS stands for Global Positioning System. The global positioning system is a system of satellites that enclose the entire earth with 30 satellites. Each satellite sends a signal to a receiver which is different in wavelength, speed, and time to reach the receiver. As the earth rotates, the position of the receiver on the earth will be continuously changing. But, the position of the satellites around the earth remains unchanged. So, at all times, the receiver shall always be exposed to any 8 satellites. The signal from each satellite to the receiver shall not have the same features. They differ in the various factors like frequency, data updates, precision and course codes, military, CM and CL codes etc. Digital maps have been designed with the natural details of all parts of the earth. These digital maps are synchronized with the satellites to know the exact position of a receiver on earth. Number of satellites can be installed in the network of the GPS network to provide the data with more clarity and accuracy.

Thermal camera

Thermal cameras also play a vital role in the autonomous vehicle system. They absorb even the tiny heat signatures from a specific distance and process that heat to determine the scene in front of the car. Even these thermal imaging cameras do not seem to be trustworthy. In cold countries, the environment is cool but the temperature of the human shall be hot. This makes the thermal camera to differentiate the human and the environment. We know that any technology has its disadvantages also. True to that word, when using the same vehicle in a hot country the algorithms used to differentiate the humans from the environment shall not be perform properly.

This is because the heat sensor of the human and the environment coincides with each other thus making the object with the least heat signature to subside. In other words, the thermal camera will not see the human resulting in terrible accidents.  Most reliable algorithms are needed with still more reinforcements which is compatible to any weather conditions out there to reduce the accidents due to automatic cars. Employing the thermal cameras at all directions and comparing those images using an algorithm to judge the exact scene in front of the car can prove to be highly reliable.


RADAR sends an ultrasonic signal which strikes an object and comes back to the receiver of the RADAR. Using the distance of the object from the RADAR, the speed can be easily measured with the help of RADAR. LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It produces an intense and coherent monochromatic beam of light used for various purposes like surgery, holography, spectroscopy; drilling etc LIDAR is a versatile device which combines the functions of radar and a laser to get its shape. LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. LIDAR system illuminates the target by sending its laser impulses.

Not all the laser impulses are reflected back to the laser. Some of the beams which return after striking the target seem to have a change in their frequency, wavelength, penetrating power etc. Using these changes, the LIDAR is able to construct its own 3D image of the scene in front of the car. But these systems are not completely reliable, as they prove to be inaccurate at adverse climatic conditions. LIDAR is also used in various departments like geology, geomorphology, physics, seismology, forestry, etc. An airborne LIDAR provides a lucid 3D picture of the mountains, which allows the Mountaineers to have a sigh of relief. In agriculture, the LIDAR can be used to determine the yield in several acres of land by using a aerial imaging. This allows the farmer to apply fertilizer to that particular area with the least yield.

LIDARs are also wonderful equipment for road safety. Sometimes, roadside reflectors at the sides of the road shall not work properly, thereby misguiding the driver. But, LIDAR systems sent the LASER signal to the road and capture the reflected signal using which the LIDAR can understand the road. Suppose if the car, moves away from the road, the specifications of the reflection signal shall change which makes the LIDAR to understand diversion from the road.

Visible camera

The visible camera in the front mirror position is used to detect the colors of the traffic signal and to drive the car automatically. These visible cameras are also used to detect the pets, pedestrians along the roadside in order to ensure public safety.

Ultrasonic sensor

True to the name, these ultrasonic sensors are installed at the sides of the car which is used to prevent accidental collision of cars while overtaking and parking. When this sensor encounters a close object it signifies the central computer to move accordingly thereby protecting the car and the driver.

Radar sensor

Radar sensors are positioned in the front and rear bumpers of the car which allows the driver to check the status and position of the car in front and back. This system has been in use in the adaptive cruise control systems.


Online Entrepreneur & CEO/Founder of Thetic Blog.

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