Vehicle Detection and Tracking Using Thermal Cameras in Adverse Visibility Conditions. Academic Article uri icon


  • Level 5 autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, requires the vehicle to function under all weather and visibility conditions. This sensing problem becomes significantly challenging in weather conditions that include events such as sudden changes in lighting, smoke, fog, snow, and rain. No standalone sensor currently in the market can reliably perceive the environment in all conditions. While regular cameras, lidars, and radars will suffice for typical driving conditions, they may fail in some edge cases. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that the addition of Long Wave Infrared (LWIR)/thermal cameras to the sensor stack on a self-driving vehicle can help fill this sensory gap during adverse visibility conditions. In this paper, we trained a machine learning-based image detector on thermal image data and used it for vehicle detection. For vehicle tracking, Joint Probabilistic Data association and Multiple Hypothesis Tracking approaches were explored where the thermal camera information was fused with a front-facing radar. The algorithms were implemented using FLIR thermal cameras on a 2017 Lincoln MKZ operating in College Station, TX, USA. The performance of the tracking algorithm has also been validated in simulations using Unreal Engine.

published proceedings

  • Sensors (Basel)

author list (cited authors)

  • Bhadoriya, A. S., Vegamoor, V., & Rathinam, S.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Bhadoriya, Abhay Singh||Vegamoor, Vamsi||Rathinam, Sivakumar

publication date

  • June 2022