Global self-driving truck technology provider Plus recently announced a collaboration with Teledyne FLIR to explore adding thermal cameras to its Level 4 autonomous sensor stack.
The technology currently relies on LiDAR, cameras and radar to provide a 360-degree view around the trucks, according to a news release. Thermal cameras would add another layer of perception that’s especially useful for heavy trucks that travel the country in low-visibility and high-contrast conditions including at night, dusk or sunrise. Smoke, shadows and environments with fog or smoke are also examples of where thermal cameras might help.
“We are excited to be working with the team at Plus as they explore the integration of thermal cameras into their current sensor suite, creating even safer autonomous commercial vehicles,” said Paul Clayton, Teledyne FLIR general manager of components, industrial technologies segment, according to the release. “By combining thermal imaging with visible light cameras, LiDAR and radar, Plus can create more comprehensive and redundant systems, allowing these vehicles to more readily detect and classify objects and humans on the road to help save lives.”
Depending on the configuration, thermal cameras also can classify pedestrians at distances of up to 250 meters. The cameras also help when backing up or when the trucks are being overtaken by another vehicle.
“You can never be too safe when it comes to equipment you put on a heavy truck,” Plus Chief Architect Tim Daly said, according to the release. “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.”