Autoliv Tests its New Thermal and Near-Infrared Fusion System
A More Ambitious FPA Development
A new program called FNIR is being started in Europe to develop a low-cost automotive night vision system based on fused images from an uncooled LWIR imager and a near-infrared (NIR) imager.
Autoliv is preparing to introduce its new Night Vision 2 system to aid drivers of passenger cars when driving at night. The new system will offer significant new capabilities while simultaneously lowering the cost to automakers.
Uncooled infrared focal plane arrays based on vanadium oxide and amorphous silicon microbolometers are now well established. But new technologies are around the corner.
L-3 Infrared Products is taking aim at the military driver’s vision enhancement (DVE) market with a new system intended to be used on tactical wheeled vehicles. The Diver’s Vision System (DVS) makes use of the company’s uncooled BST FPAs which are also used in its commercial automotive night vision system.
After a thorough evaluation of both passive thermal and active near infrared (NIR) automotive night vision systems, German luxury car maker BMW has decided to stay with thermal imaging (called “FIR” or “Far Infrared” in the automotive industry).
An attempt to gain economies of scale in the automotive night vision market has fallen through. Negotiations on the potential acquisition by Autoliv of the L-3 Infrared Products automotive night vision business have been discontinued. The move would have combined the two leading suppliers of passive LWIR automotive night vision systems.
A proposed European Union regulation to enhance pedestrian safety may help to significantly expand the use of automotive infrared night vision systems. The proposed regulation will require a specific active safety system called Brake Assist on all new vehicles starting on July 1, 2008. In addition, new types of equipment, such as collision avoidance, will be recognized as alternatives to Brake Assist.
FLIR Systems has re-organized its Imaging business into two separate Divisions: a commercial imaging division and a government imaging division. The company also plans to invest $15 million to significantly increase the capacity of its uncooled VOx microbolometer production facility in Santa Barbara.