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FLIR Thermal Imaging to Improve Reliability of Autonomous Cars

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FLIR Thermal Imaging to Improve Reliability of Autonomous Cars

FLIR Thermal Imaging to Improve Reliability of Autonomous Cars


The concept of a safe self-driving car may still seem a distant reality to most. Statistics reveal that more than a million people are killed and another 30-50 million are injured every year in traffic-related accidents round the world. Not only is it a massive loss for friends, families and communities but the economic losses are colossal too. It has been estimated by surveys that 90-95% of these tragedies can be traced back to human error. Hence the potential benefits of autonomous and self-driving cars are undeniable. Taking a step in that direction, FLIR has announced a new high-resolution Thermal Vision Automotive Development Kit from that can make a remarkable difference to the automotive industry as it moves towards a future of self-driving cars.

Today’s Technology

The autonomous and self-driving solutions available currently have use a variety of sensors but have shortcomings that can be resolved when used in conjunction with thermal imaging. As the auto industry’s only automotive-qualified, passive infrared sensor currently in production, FLIR® sensors are incorporated in numerous vehicle types, including those made by General Motors, Peugeot, Mercedes, Audi, and BMW. These thermal sensors are the ideal sensor technology for detecting pedestrians, animals, and other vehicles, can see at up to four times more. Thermal imaging can assist future autonomous vehicles in sensing and navigating difficult environments such as darkness, sun glare, fog, smoke, and haze.

The Solution

A webinar was recently held to demonstrate the several avenues that the FLIR can be put to use in. The conventional uses of the FLIR’s thermal imaging technology have been basic pictures of thermal imaging at work in search and rescue missions or as a firefighting tool. The global sales manager and webinar presenter Randall Warnas who presented the webinar, reviewed a number of specific features that can help public safety programs achieve their goals.

The webinar covered topics including MSX Image blending, isotherm, radiometry and best practices. A video at the webinar included a review of its uses for public safety in several many areas.  Drones equipped with thermographic equipment offer a valuable tool that reaches across departments. The use cases reviewed comprised finding people, firefighting, anti-poaching programs, accident reconstruction, anti-trafficking missions, and SWAT or high-risk situation support.

FLIR thermal imaging technology diagram

Source: FLIR

“Of all the uses of this technology, this to me is by far the most important,” said Warnas. Fields that are most likely to benefit from thermal imaging technology are Law Enforcement, Firefighting, and Search and Rescue, points out Warnas, “but they all share common links…not only with how they use drones and thermal imaging, but how they obtain budgets and interact with the public. Drone technology has a proven track record of saving lives.”

FLIR’s new, high-resolution Thermal Vision Automotive Development Kit (ADK™), features a high-performance FLIR Boson™ thermal camera that brings unique capabilities of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to automakers and innovators. It allows developers to easily add an affordable, long-range thermal camera to their ADAS development vehicles that will help advance reliability and redundancy required for self-driving cars.

FLIR also offers classes worldwide through the infrared training center ([email protected].)

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Cite this article as: Sarah Whittaker, "FLIR Thermal Imaging to Improve Reliability of Autonomous Cars," in, January 23, 2018,

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