Editor's note: A previous version of this story mischaracterized technology offered by WaveSense Inc.
Radar, lidar and cameras are the technologies commonly used to ensure autonomous vehicles can accurately navigate and position themselves within their environment.
But Raz Peleg, director of sales for AdaSky, says thermal imaging — using far-infrared technology — is the key to the success of AVs.
The 3-year-old Israeli startup's Viper system detects the thermal energy that radiates from other vehicles, people, animals, infrastructure and more, from 300 to 400 yards away.
In Detroit on Monday, Peleg demonstrated the high-resolution thermal sensor, which he says can be less costly and consume less energy than other AV sensors.
"It's about time the industry shifts from prototype to production," Peleg said.
Thermal imaging has long been associated with the aviation and defense industries. AdaSky CEO Yakov Shaharabani has experience developing thermal cameras for civilian and military uses. The startup's technology differs from these techniques, however, because it doesn't require recalibration and reset time.
Companies such as Boston startup WaveSense focus on subterranean radar sensing to compensate for unpredictable lane markings or changing weather conditions. Ground-penetrating technologies can improve the sensor suite for AVs.
But unlike some technologies, thermal imaging is not challenged by the weather and issues with lighting visibility, according to a recent pedestrian detection study conducted by motoring organization AAA.
And despite perceptions, it's not solely "night vision" technology .
AdaSky says its product also can be integrated into ADAS, or advanced driver assistance systems, hence the first four letters of the startup's name. The company says that in 2020, its technology will be available in a production vehicle made by a North American automaker.
AdaSky received $20 million from South Korean automotive components manufacturer Sungwoo Hitech in 2018 as part of a larger funding round.
It also announced a partnership with auto supplier Magneti Marelli at CES last year to integrate its far-infrared sensor into smart headlights.
--Alexa St. John