Future self-driving cars will only be as good as their sensors, and those sensors tend to fall into three categories. Cameras, radar, and lidar dominate the industry, but Israeli startup AdaSky wants to introduce a fourth option. AdaSky believes thermal imaging — currently used by world militaries to find targets in low-visibility conditions — could help self-driving cars “see” in conditions that would blind other sensor types.
Thermal imaging — also known as infrared, for the slice of the light spectrum it uses — detects the heat emitted by people and objects. You may have seen its black-and-white images, with people illuminated by an alien glow from their body heat, on a news broadcast. Because it doesn’t rely on light in the visible spectrum, thermal imaging works in direct sunlight, rain, fog, or snow, where cameras or lidar might fail, Raz Peleg, AdaSky’s director of sales, told Digital Trends.