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Thread: Thermal Imaging for Cars

  1. #1

    Default Thermal Imaging for Cars

    Just wondering whether any body here has had experience with any vehicles equipment with thermal imaging and object detection systems. Wondering if it is worth installing an aftermarket system to help increase my awareness of my surroundings while driving. My Honda has great headlights but I would like something to help point out possible dangers sooner for cases when I might have missed them.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Thermal Imaging for Cars

    This is the camera system I was thinking about installing

  3. #3

    Default Re: Thermal Imaging for Cars

    I have an OE IR night vision system on a '12 E-class. It works well when it is very dark or there are very few other light sources on the road. Light sources wash out the picture.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Thermal Imaging for Cars

    There are (were?) Cadillacs that came with something called xvision nightdriver. I believe that is the first gen. of what you are looking at. If you drive a lot at night, or there are lots of deer or pedestrians or something on the roads there, avoiding one accident would more than pay for the system. You will need to find a way to project the information so you don't need to look too far away from the windshield while you drive.

    If you do go ahead with this, consider posting a thread. I'd love to hear about it.

    moderator edit
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    Alaric D
    Last edited by Ken_McE; 01-09-2018 at 07:05 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Thermal Imaging for Cars


    I have been wondering about this for a while too. Found the same camera in the link you did. The resolution, field of view and how to keep the camera clean were issues that prevented me from moving on it.

    I used to work with Helmet mounted stuff. Camera resolution & processing and the display resolution/technology and the computing software made all the difference. You needed good engineering in all three areas to make it work well. The camera here is on the low end of the resolution scale, at least compared to military grade equipment that is quite usefull and very expensive. If you have a lot of money and time to research this site you can find something that will work well.

    Mounting it and keeping it clean will become the first issue. Then mounting a display in the car the next. The other issue for me was having upwards of $15k of equipment in my car that any thief could grab. Last I spent time on it I was moving towards a dash mounted cam/display that took care of the camera cleaning with the cars wipers but that presented a problem with the camera getting past the windshield without reflections and other optical issues. Dash mounting at least dealt with theft as you could remove it each day.

    After looking at NV for cars for the last few years I came back around to good factory lighting with new factory headlamp assemblies if needed, followed by good bulbs and wiring upgrades if needed. Auxilary lighting also can help.

    My conclusion on the Night Vision is it will have to be a company that knows what they are doing in all three areas camera/processing/displays and can afford to deal with the bridge time between military tech and automotive tech... which are at opposite ends of the problem. Military guys have lots of money and automotive guys get pennies. Military guys build hundreds of items, auto guys millions on a good production run. So the problem in my opinion will be to take a good military tech, wait get it old enough to declassify it and then transition it into civilian use, all while lowering the cost enough to mass produce it. Alternate path is to come up with a ground breaking new tech to by pass the military capability which someone may do. That's why I was looking as you are, hoping some company had the funds and interest to "find a way". I was hoping for a new tech dash mounted camera with wide field of view and a heads up display.

    If it shows up I'd expect it to run well north of $10k in low quantites. If it ever got mass produced like cell phone tech maybe around $1k.

    In the interim I'll likely search for a good NV auto cam every few years, while the realist in me will buy new head lamp assemblies and bulbs for my flintstone mobiles as the lenses yellow and the bulbs wear out.

    Good luck with your quest for NV in the car, maybe some company will realize NV isn't something just the military wants, everyday drivers would like to have a better safer view of the road at night.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Blue Ridge Mountains, VA

    Default Re: Thermal Imaging for Cars

    Anything that was really good in an automobile would get slapped with an ITAR restriction faster than you can spit.

    There's lots of cheap Soviet based Chinese junk out there. Old gen 1 intensifiers while no where cutting edge are still costly to produce and service. Most require some type of day light blocker so as to not blow the tube.

    My deer slayer 300 Blackout, with the ITT Litton scope works well out to about 100 yards. Well enough to spot antlers from does in close to total darkness.

    Before anyone gets upset, I had a permit to take deer from a local reservoir. They had to be taken at night time due to utilization during the day light hours.
    Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Default Re: Thermal Imaging for Cars

    While I don't disagree with there being a level of complexity for a mass-market device, I think you may be needlessly complicating things (to have a minimum viable product). As well, to the other post, this is micro-bolometer, not image intensifier. We are talking pure IR imaging, which tuned, can have some significant benefits over visible light, but the question is, what resolution is enough, how do you display it in a viable format, and then of course the mounting.

    The camera aspect of it is actually somewhat simple. Micro-bolometer, appropriate lens, etc. That would be quite easy to pay someone for. Computing .... pretty limited. How do you want your false image displayed? You could throw some noise reduction in, but not rocket science.

    Display .. yup, that is the gotcha. Putting it where it an advantage and not a distraction will be key. I would add to that, the overall mounting.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 01-23-2018 at 08:08 AM. Reason: Remove overquote

  8. #8

    Default Re: Thermal Imaging for Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by ssanasisredna View Post
    Display .. yup, that is the gotcha. Putting it where it an advantage and not a distraction will be key. I would add to that, the overall mounting. This is an ad, but it briefly addresses that question.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Thermal Imaging for Cars

    I just watched the video on the FLIR page and the one provided by Ken_McE. I'm afraid there is one significant difference that I see in the FLIR vs. the one I experienced in my E-Class:

    The images provided on the screen appear smaller than they appear whenever they provide side by side actual and display. On my system the images are larger than what I saw out the window. If looking at the display you want the object to appear larger than actual so that you can respond to possibly hitting him/her/the animal, not smaller than actual, which you may perceive as further away.

    Is there any way to adjust the zoom???

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