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May 09, 2023 | 02:24 pm 240 0

The role of night vision in unmanned systems of modern cars


The role of night vision in unmanned systems of modern cars

The automotive industry is developing quite actively. It is gradually introducing various modern technologies that will help make driving easier and safer. Among the many current developments, night vision (NV) in unmanned vehicle systems is the most promising. It will help reduce the number of road accidents, thereby saving many lives. Work in this direction is very active, so NV is gradually becoming an indispensable technology. However, you need to study all the related information to understand its role in modern unmanned control systems.

History of night vision on Cars

The beginning of the history of NV on vehicles is 2000. It was then that Cadillac first introduced this technology into its production cars. In them, NV was presented as the most straightforward possible device that read data from a thermal sensor mounted on the car's grille. The system processed the received information, then transmitted it to the display as a black-and-white image. On it, warm objects were marked with light, and cold things were marked with dark.

Two years after the first application of NV on vehicles, Toyota offered its innovative version. She installed an active IR system on the best models, which consisted of a mini-projector and a particular camera. After reflection from various objects, the first emitted IR rays were captured by the second element of the system (camera). After that, the information was processed, and the driver saw a black-and-white image on the windshield.

In 2005, the German companies BMW, Mercedes, and Audi joined the work of introducing NV into driving a car. They used an improved version of the system invented by Cadillac. Initially, the results did not please the owners of auto concerns, but gradually the situation changed for the better. Only after that did other automotive industry giants like Volvo and Honda join the process.

Work on implementing NV in the vehicle control system continues in our time. The latest research proves the system's insufficient effectiveness, so in the future, it will be repeatedly transformed until it becomes ideal. The most relevant direction now is to expand the role of night vision in unmanned vehicles.

Types of automotive night vision systems

All vehicle NV systems use one of two technologies (image enhancement and thermal imaging). The principle of operation of the first is based on the use of available light, which is collected by a night vision device installed on the car (most often, it is a mini-camera). Further, the received information is converted, making the dark image brighter and more transparent. On it, the driver or an unmanned vehicle control system will be able to distinguish between obstacles on the road, pedestrians, and other road users. The second of the technologies used provide for the collection by the installed device of not light but heat rays. They come from all objects, giving a complete picture of the car's surroundings. The collected rays are converted into a heat map. It appears before the eyes of the driver or is transmitted to the unmanned control system of the vehicle.

In manned vehicles, the image obtained using the NV system can be displayed on the dashboard, windshield, or a unique display. In all cases, the driver will see the area in front of the vehicle and all the objects located on it. Such information will help to change the direction of movement in time, avoid collisions with various obstacles, and timely press the brake pedal. In the unmanned systems of modern cars, the image is simultaneously shown to the driver and the computer. The latter studies the situation, identifies objects falling into the field of view of the NV device, and measures the distance to each of them. Based on the information received, the computer makes the best decision to avoid accidents and other undesirable situations on the road.

Two types of NV systems are used in modern cars. Both of them are equally popular with manufacturing companies. However, each style has its strengths and weaknesses. Knowing them, you can choose the best option that meets your needs.

Types of NV systems:

  1. Passive. This system works based on thermal imaging. She finds various objects in the dark and identifies them by the degree of heating. So the computer distinguishes people, animals, multiple obstacles, and other vehicles against the background of a rather cold roadway. This enables the unmanned system or the car's driver to learn about the approach to any object and take the necessary measures. The main disadvantage of the passive system is the need for a more evident selection of inanimate objects. This is because they emit a minimum of heat, and their temperature does not differ much from the degree of heating of the road. This feature does not exclude the possibility of a collision with a large stone, concrete fence, and other similar obstacles. Also, passive systems do not work effectively in regions with a constantly warm climate, where even at night, the temperature of the road surface remains very high. The most famous automakers using a passive system in their cars are the German giants (BMW, Audi, Volkswagen) and the American General Motors.
  2. Active. This system uses classic brightness enhancement technology to improve image quality. It collects all the available light from devices mounted on the radiator grille and other parts of the car, after which it increases the brightness many times over. As a result, the picture becomes more apparent, and it is possible to distinguish different objects. An active system is attractive because it works more efficiently than a passive one. The sensors capture enough light to form a high-quality image thanks to infrared illumination. Another benefit is the increased range, which allows the driver or computer to see a greater distance in front of the vehicle. This feature gives more time to detect and identify objects, leaving enough margin even for an emergency brake application. The active system's only drawback is inefficiency in terrible weather conditions. Due to heavy rain or snow, it becomes tough to distinguish objects on the road. The leaders in the use of the active system are Toyota and Mercedes.

The Role of night vision on Cars

Night vision has long been an integral part of the control system of modern cars. In most models, it plays a crucial role in helping the driver or unmanned system to drive safely, even in total darkness.

Aspects affected by night vision:

  1. Reducing the likelihood of an emergency. The primary role of night vision in cars is its impact on the number of traffic accidents that occur. With its help, the number of accidents that occur in bad weather or at night is significantly reduced. This happens by providing the driver or unmanned system with a high-quality image in which all obstacles are visible. Already, statistics have confirmed a decrease in the number of accidents involving cars where the NV system is installed. However, in the future, these numbers will be even more pleasant.
  2. Increased field of view. Standard car headlights are, on average capable of illuminating the road up to 80 meters ahead and 20-30 meters wide. This is often insufficient to notice the trouble and have time to maneuver, avoiding an emergency. Vehicles that use NV have a much wider field of view. Already, NV systems are being installed on modern cars that can increase visibility up to 200 meters in length and 50-60 meters in width. In the future, these figures will only increase, positively affecting the number of traffic accidents.
  3. Visibility of the road boundaries. One of the most common causes of accidents is non-compliance with the limits of the roadway. This problem is especially acute in those places where the edges of the road do not have fences. In such cases, in order not to accidentally drive off the night highway and not crash into a tree growing on the side of the road or not fall into a cliff, you need to use cars with the NV system. It will improve the road boundaries' visibility, practically eliminating any troubles.
  4. Protecting the health of the driver and passengers. The night vision system installed on the car will enable the driver and passengers to feel more comfortable while driving at night. This will eliminate the occurrence of various stressful situations that will negatively affect people's health. In addition, NV will protect the driver's eyes from overvoltage. With its help, it will not be necessary to peer too hard into the dark road and concentrate all your attention on the events ahead.
  5. Increasing the safety of pedestrians. Traffic rules are often violated at night, not by drivers, but by pedestrians. They cross the road in the wrong place, suddenly cross the path of a car moving according to all the rules, or run out onto the roadway for no reason. In these cases, NV will help to avoid death. It will quickly form an image of the area in front of the car, after which the computer will identify a person on the road. After a moment, the brake pedal will be automatically pressed, and the collision will be prevented. A similar situation will be in the case of the appearance of wild animals on the road. Based on the data received from the NV, the unmanned system will quickly stop the car, making it possible to avoid a collision.

Unmanned vehicle control systems are an exciting development that could maximize road safety in the future. Night vision will also play an essential role in this process. It is already responsible for the car's movement in the dark, forcing the vehicle to go around all obstacles and timely press the brake pedal. If the activity of the emergence of new developments does not decrease, then in a few years, unmanned vehicles will massively go onto the roads of the whole world and will be able to drive on them at any time of the day safely.


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