Valeo and Teledyne FLIR are collaborating to bring thermal imaging technology to the automotive industry for road safety enhancement.
The two companies contracted with a leading global automotive OEM in late 2023, without disclosing the name, to deliver thermal imaging cameras as part of a new generation of vehicle advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), according to a joint news release from Valeo and Teledyne FLIR.
Valeo and Teledyne FLIR will bring to market an Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) B thermal imaging technology for night vision ADAS. The system will complement Valeo’s large range of sensors and rely on its ADAS software stack to support functions, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) at night, for passenger and commercial vehicles. It will also work on autonomous vehicles.
The companies said in a joint news release that Valeo’s knowledge of automotive vision systems paired with Teledyne FLIR’s thermal vision technology know-how will supply a complete solution for night vision to the OEM they’ve contracted with, including perception software.
“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,” said Marc Vrecko, president of Valeo comfort and driving assistance. “This new camera and its perception software will complement our offer and improve the overall performance of ADAS and autonomous vehicle systems to bring even more safety to road users, especially at night.”
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) research that was released in 2022 found that AEB systems work well at detecting pedestrians during the day, but are ineffective at night on roads without streetlights. Since then, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called for new federal standards that would require more effective AEB and forward collision warning (FCW) systems on new vehicles. The agency has also proposed performance tests that require vehicles to avoid collisions under specific testing scenarios, including up to 50 mph.
AEB on passenger cars and light trucks would dramatically reduce the amount of rear-end and pedestrian crashes, according to NHTSA.
The proposed rules build on existing crash imminent braking, dynamic brake support, and FCW systems, but would require vehicles to be capable of braking at speeds up to 62 mph to avoid a crash when manual braking is applied. Valeo and Teledyne FLIR said AEB systems need to include thermal imaging because it’s “crucial for detecting and classifying living objects in low-light conditions and inclement weather.”
If approved, changes would apply to vehicles manufactured four years after the final rule is issued.
“Teledyne FLIR continues to make tremendous strides in developing and incorporating thermal imaging into automotive safety systems, from aftermarket driver-aid technologies to autonomous robotaxis,” said Paul Clayton, Teledyne FLIR vice president and general manager. “Our work with Valeo enables us to make thermal imaging technology ubiquitous within transportation, from passenger cars to semi-trucks, allowing more drivers and automated vehicle safety systems to see in complete darkness, in cluttered environments, and in adverse weather where other incumbent sensors struggle.”
In the U.S., preliminary data from the Governor Highway Safety Association found that more than 7,500 pedestrians were killed in 2022 traffic crashes, which would make for the most pedestrian deaths by year since 1981. Three-quarters of the fatalities occurred at night.
According to NHTSA’s most recent data, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed in vehicle crashes in 2017, and 75% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in the dark compared to during daylight (21%), dusk (2%), and dawn (2%) hours.
Valeo and Teledyne FLIR systems will be on display during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada next week, beginning Jan. 9.
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