FLIR System on the cutting edge of smart traffic systems
FLIR Systems of Wilsonville is rolling out a new camera that aims to change the way we drive.
Following the 2012 acquisition of Traficon — a global leader in video image processing software and hardware for traffic analysis — FLIR accomplished a major goal of producing cameras and software that will allow vehicles to communicate data in real-time with public transportation systems, pedestrian traffic and other vehicles to improve safety and efficiency.
Representatives of FLIR's European operations debuted the new FLIR Thermicam V2X at Intertraffic 2018, a traffic mobility and smart solutions trade show that took place in Amsterdam in March. The Thermicam V2X is a thermal traffic sensor for the emerging vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology market that will allow traffic systems to communicate data back and forth with cars, buses and all other sorts of traffic.
"Here at FLIR's traffic group we provide thermal and visual cameras that contain algorithms that process all the pixel information in real time that detect cars, bikes and pedestrians in a traffic environment including intersections, tunnels, bridges and highways," said Michael Deruytter, FLIR Systems director of innovation. "The addition of V2X gives us a lot of capabilities."
Deruytter was part of Traficon's team of software engineers, and with their acquisition by FLIR, the team was given access to a whole new world of thermal imaging technologies that have boosted their development of V2X traffic system technologies.
While the concept of cars and traffic systems communicating sounds like a futuristic idea, the technology is actually about 10 years old, according to Deruytter. Governments and universities around the globe have worked on this technology for quite some time, but Deruytter and his group of engineers have taken that research a step further by integrating the technology with FLIR's thermal imaging cameras.
"This is a life-saving and accident prevention technology," he said. "When vehicles are able to communicate with other vehicles, they communicate much faster than a human driver can see something going wrong."
Some examples of those situations would be a vehicle braking hard, or a driver navigating a left turn without seeing an oncoming car. These potential hazardous situations can be detected by the vehicles themselves by communicating with each other through V2X technology.
FLIR's vision is to install these new V2X Thermicams at every stop light and intersection where a traffic camera already exists, thus massively widening the scope of information and data available for cars and traffic systems to communicate. In turn, they hope to create a safer traffic environment for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation alike.
"The way this technology communicates is very fast at 10 times per second and very reliable at up to 1,000 feet, so basically every car with this technology in the automotive industry, the carmakers, are waiting for a government to get this implemented in their cars, but there are several manufacturers that are ahead of any mandate and are already implementing the technology," Deruyetter said. "Some of those include Volkswagen and General Motors."
Deruyetter explains that several pilot programs are taking place in cities across the globe including New York City, which is testing 10,000 cars, limos and buses mounted with V2X technology. It's a huge step forward for the V2X market, and these pilot programs will allow developers like FLIR to use the test data to make improvements and even further fine tune their products like the V2X Thermicam and other vehicular mounted products that communicate with each other.
"The amount of innovation taking place and the fact companies are now able to respond faster to the demands of the market is nice to see," Deryutter said.