August 23, 2006 Thermal Imaging has long been used by the military to see in the dark in mission-critical situations, so it’s not surprising that it is being used in BMW’s new Night Vision driver assistance system. In using thermal imaging as the basis for the system, BMW engineers have opted for an approach that places greater focus on detecting people and animals at danger. Objects which radiate heat are shown particularly bright and are therefore drawn to the attention of the driver. In urban areas, lighting is usually sufficient for drivers to recognise dangers with the naked eye, but BMW Night Vision is most effective on country roads where pedestrians, cyclists and animals can be detected earlier. The system also has advantages on unlit streets or dark courtyards and poorly lit car parks. Australian accident statistics show that 45 per cent of fatal road accidents occur at night, even though more than two thirds of all driving is done during the day, so the new system addresses a serious issue - driving at night represents a significant potential danger. The Night Vision system is now available as an option in the BMW 7 Series, 5 Series and 6 Series. The thermal imaging camera covers a range of up to 300 metres or almost 1,000 feet ahead of the car, almost twice as far as near infrared systems on the Mercedes S Class and the Lexus LX470. Great image gallery with video.
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