Advancing automotive safety with thermal imaging technology

Hayley Everett

Thermal imaging could play a crucial role in advancing auto safety.

Against the backdrop of a concerning surge in pedestrian fatalities, particularly at night, a partnership between automotive supplier Valeo and manufacturer Teledyne FLIR responds to the critical need for enhanced Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems that can operate in low-light conditions and adverse weather.

Preliminary data from the Governor Highway Safety Association reveals that 2022 witnessed the highest recorded pedestrian fatalities in the US since 1981. Notably, 75% of these accidents occurred at night, emphasising the urgent need for improved safety measures. While regulators are proposing stricter AEB testing standards, existing systems lack thermal imaging capabilities vital for detecting living objects in challenging conditions.

Valeo has joined forces with Teledyne FLIR, a division of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, to address this critical gap. The collaboration has already secured a significant contract from a global automotive original equipment manufacturer, marking a pivotal moment in the integration of thermal imaging into Advanced Driver-Assist Systems (ADAS).

This partnership will introduce the first-ever Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) B thermal imaging technology specifically designed for night vision ADAS. Going beyond conventional sensors, Valeo and Teledyne FLIR aim to deliver a comprehensive solution for night vision, augmenting Valeo’s existing ADAS software stack. The system will support essential functions such as automatic emergency braking for both passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as autonomous cars.

Valeo, who specialises in automotive camera technologies, will leverage its extensive expertise in vision systems to seamlessly integrate Teledyne FLIR’s thermal vision technology. The complete solution will encompass perception software based on Valeo’s AI and Graphical Visualisation stack, ensuring a robust and effective ADAS implementation.

Marc Vrecko, President of Valeo Comfort and Driving Assistance, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating: “Valeo has the most extensive portfolio of perception solutions on the market, and we are looking forward to working with Teledyne FLIR to add thermal imaging to our offer.” He highlights that the new camera and perception software would complement their existing capabilities, enhancing the overall performance of ADAS and autonomous vehicle systems, especially in challenging night-time conditions.

Paul Clayton, Vice President and General Manager of Teledyne FLIR, underscores the significant strides both companies are making in incorporating thermal imaging into automotive safety systems. Clayton emphasises the potential impact across diverse transportation sectors, from passenger cars to semi-trucks, enabling drivers and automated vehicle safety systems to operate effectively in complete darkness, cluttered environments, and adverse weather conditions where conventional sensors struggle.

The collaboration between Valeo and Teledyne FLIR represents a crucial step toward making thermal imaging technology ubiquitous within the automotive industry, promising increased safety for road users, particularly at night.

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