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Ore. Company Says Thermal Cameras Key to Safer AVs

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May 8, 2018—One Oregon-based company has claimed that heat-seeking cameras should be incorporated into the current self-driving car setup to make the vehicles safer.

According to futurecar.com, a company named Flir has proposed that heat-seeking cameras be incorporated into autonomous vehicles as part of a safety measure that overcomes some of the obstacles that standard Lidar technology can encounter.

The safety of autonomous vehicles has come into question recently, following crashes such as a near-fatal accident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle in Arizona. The Lidar technology used by Uber reportedly wasn’t able to spot a pedestrian in the dark in that incident.

Heat-seeking cameras can detect temperature differences as low as 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning they are, in theory, able to detect human bodies and distinguish between a wide range of objects. Lidar uses a laser-shooting sensor to detect objects, and that technology can malfunction if a view is obstructed by elements such as fog or direct sunlight. Conversely, heat-seeking cameras utilize infrared light to distinguish between objects, and such obstructions don’t tend to affect the functionality of thermal cameras.

Thus, the technology behind thermal cameras could be a game-changer in the self-driving realm, Flir suggested.

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