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  • Hands on the Wheel, Cameras on the Road

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2001
If vision technology wants to hitch a ride aboard commercial automobiles, it must improve component cost-performance ratios without reinventing the wheel.

Daniel C. McCarthy, Senior Editor

When General Motors introduced the night-vision option in its 2000 DeVille, it selected the "Cadillac" of infrared technology, a ferroelectric focal plane array. Not far removed from the thermal imagers used in the Gulf War, the 320 x 240-pixel detector from Raytheon Systems Co. in Dallas senses thermal gradients emitted as mid-infrared light between 7 and 14 µm.

The technology was lauded by the automotive trade press and became, like the Cadillac, a sort of status symbol for motorists. But prestige alone cannot fuel the spread of automotive technology, nor can data from both the US and German automotive industries that indicate that almost half of all accidents occur after dark, although night driving represents less than a third of the time motorists spend on the road...

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