Project to assess thermal imaging for self-driving trucks

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Image: Teledyne Flir

Plus, which provides technology for self-driving trucks, has begun a development project to explore the addition of thermal cameras into its sensor stack for level 4 autonomous driving. Teledyne Flir is supplying the cameras.

Plus's systems currently use lidar, cameras, and radar to give a 360-degree view around the vehicle. Thermal cameras add another layer of perception that is particularly useful for heavy trucks driving in low-visibility and high-contrast conditions, Plus said.

Challenging conditions for sensing include: during the night or at dusk or sunrise; in direct sunlight or in headlight glare; or in fog or smoke.

Depending on configuration, thermal cameras can detect and classify pedestrians at distances of up to 250 metres, which is further than the reach of typical headlights. They can also provide another layer of perception around the vehicle, particularly helpful when the vehicle is backing up or when being overtaken by an ensuing vehicle.

Tim Daly, chief architect of Plus, said: 'You can never be too safe when it comes to equipment you put on a heavy truck. Combining thermal cameras with our other sensors would bring an additional margin of safety to our system.

'Our research pilot will not only assess the technical performance but also consider cost and scale requirements in order to potentially add this to our product roadmap,' he added.