Thermal Imaging Systems offer a host of benefits for advanced driverless vehicles

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and driverless vehicles are two of the major trends shaping today’s automotive industry. Advances in these areas are ultimately expected to reduce traffic fatalities due to human error. The need for crash prevention technology has been well documented by the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation & Safety Association). One such crash avoidance technology is automatic braking. The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to require standard automatic braking systems on all vehicles by 2025.

These autonomous emergency braking systems include road user vision detection capabilities. and many manufacturers are already implementing this technology. It is interesting to note the air transportation industry is also leveraging advances in technology to provide pilots with vision systems that can assist them during landing and taxiing in all-weather conditions, day or night.

Current vision systems use a combination of visible light, LIDAR and radar and can provide information about a vehicle’s surroundings. However, these systems are limited by certain factors, such as available light and are limited in their ability to discern the type of object detected (human, animal or an inanimate obstacle).

Thermal imaging systems, on the other hand, could allow driverless vehicles and aircraft pilots to sense, detect and clearly identify any obstacle, whether it is at a distance of one meter or one kilometer, in all-weather conditions, any time of the day or night.

Thermal sensor technologies can also be used to sense driver and passenger activity and react by adjusting heating, ventilation or air conditioning accordingly, as well as monitoring which seats are being occupied. These features improve comfort for occupants, increase driver awareness and enhance system monitoring.



  • Hazardous obstacle detection and classification

Thermal imaging systems can detect and identify a person over 900 feet away (300 meters) and a vehicle over 1,600 feet away (500 meters) w/VGA FOV 40°.

  • All-weather detection

Thermal sensors are sensitive to far infrared wavelengths and thus detect the heat energy naturally radiated by all objects. As heat energy depends on the composition and temperature of the object, thermal detection can be a consistent and reliable solution in all environmental and lighting conditions (fog, smoke, daytime, nighttime, etc.). Thermal imaging is also immune to any glare from light sources, such as high sun beams.

  • In-cabin comfort management

Thermal activity sensors can easily locate and count people, recording temperature within a 32° F (0.1 °C) range. This information can be used to manage vehicle HVAC and driver monitoring systems.


Thermal sensors from ULIS can help vehicle system designers create effective and reliable solutions for detecting and classifying road obstacles and monitoring occupant activities in all weather and lighting conditions. Please review our uncooled products for detailed technical specifications.

Source:  ULIS