Plus Starts Development With Teledyne FLIR to Test Thermal Cameras for Autonomous Trucks

Autonomous trucks could be better able to see thorough fog or smoke by adding thermal imaging to their sensor suites.


Plus is examining different sensors for its autonomous trucks.
Autonomous truck developer Plus is exploring with defense systems maker Teledyne FLIR to explore if thermal imaging can complement cameras, lidar, and radar for certain conditions.

Plus last week announced that it will collaborate Teledyne FLIR LLC to explore the addition of thermal cameras to the sensor stack used with Plus’s Level 4 autonomous driving technology.

“We are excited to be working with the team at Plus as they explore the integration of thermal cameras into their current sensor suite, creating even safer autonomous commercial vehicles,” stated Paul Clayton, general manager of components in the Industrial Technologies Segment at Teledyne FLIR. “By combining thermal imaging with visible light cameras, lidar, and radar, Plus can create more comprehensive and redundant systems, allowing these vehicles to more readily detect and classify objects and humans on the road to help save lives.”

Serial entrepreneurs and industry veterans with experience in artificial intelligence and other high tech founded Plus in 2016. The company said it is developing low-cost, high-performance, full-stack SAE Level 4 autonomous technology to make long-haul trucking safer, more efficient, and more sustainable.

Plus is also working with truck manufacturers, fleets, and ecosystem partners to develop decarbonization transportation solutions including autonomous trucks powered by natural gas.

Formerly known as PlusAI Corp., the Cupertino, Calif.-based company announced in May that it will merge with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V and be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Dense smoke and Plus sensing

Source: Business Wire

Thermal sensors could extend Plus visibility

Plus said it takes a multi-modal sensor approach and currently uses lidar, cameras, and radar to provide trucks powered by its autonomous driving technology with a 360-degree view around the vehicle.

While the current system offers improved safety compared to a traditional truck, thermal cameras add another layer of perception that is particularly useful for heavy trucks that traverse the country in low-visibility and high-contrast conditions. These can include nighttime, shadows, dusk, or sunrise, said the company. They can also include direct sun or headlight glare, as well as challenging scenarios when fog or smoke is present due to environmental conditions.

Depending on configuration, thermal cameras can detect and classify pedestrians at distances of up to 250 m (>820 ft.), which is much farther than the reach of typical headlights, noted Plus.

Such sensors could also provide another layer of perception around the vehicle, which can be particularly helpful when the vehicle is backing up or when being overtaken by another vehicle.

“You can never be too safe when it comes to equipment you put on a heavy truck,” said Tim Daly, chief architect of Plus. “Combining thermal cameras with our other sensors would bring an additional margin of safety to our system. Our research pilot will not only assess the technical performance, but also consider cost and scale requirements in order to potentially add this to our product roadmap.”

Foggy night Plus view

Source: Business Wire

About Teledyne FLIR

Teledyne FLIR, a Teledyne Technologies company, provides sensors for defense and industrial applications and has approximately 4,000 employees worldwide. Founded in 1978, the company creates advanced technologies to help professionals make better, faster decisions that save lives and livelihoods.

Teledyne Technologies is a leading provider of sophisticated digital imaging products and software, instrumentation, aerospace and defense electronics, and engineered systems. Teledyne's primary operations are in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Western and Northern Europe.

Plus explains its strategy for autonomous trucking.

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Plus is examining different sensors for its autonomous trucks.

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