Night Vision Systems

(SWIR) Short Wave Infrared Night Vision Camera Systems for Vehicle Navigation

Night vision system development began in World War II and has become a critical component of modern warfare. The ability to see in nighttime conditions allows military maneuvers and a potential advantage to the forces equipped with this technology. These night vision systems rely on the very low light levels of starlight and night sky illumination (called "atmospheric nightglow" ) to help image the targeted scene and its surroundings.

When military ground transport vehicles (trucks, tanks, armored personnel carriers, HUMVEE's) need to operate in total darkness, their drivers can employ Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) featuring short wave Infrared (SWIR) illumination and Sensors Unlimited short wave infrared night vision camera systems to navigate covertly in hostile territory. Unlike Midwave infrared (MWIR) and Longwave Infrared (LWIR), SWIR cameras can image through the windshield and thus be mounted in the driver's compartment for a "driver's eye" view of the way ahead. SWIR cameras can also be integrated into ruggedized exterior housings.

See video below - driving with headlights OFF at 45 mph


In this video below, a roof-mounted short wave infrared night vision camera system with our new DR1 High Dynamic Range control algorithm captures all of the information in the scene. Note the lack of blooming typically seen when NVGs are exposed to bright light sources.


SWIR imaging has the additional advantage of providing images that are similar to what is seen with naked eye. This important SWIR advantage enhances recognition capability, in turn helping to reduce potential for friendly fire incidents. In another enhancement for nighttime vehicle operation, vehicles can be equipped with SWIR running lights so that they are easily tracked by other vehicle operators, such as in a nighttime convoy situation. Armored vehicles could gain an important defensive capability by using covert rearward illumination and short wave infrared night vision camera systems to alert operators to guerilla actions at the back of the vehicle.

Sensors Unlimited is the pioneer and leader in short wave infrared InGaAs photodiodes, arrays and cameras for night vision technology. Founded in 1991, the company has grown quickly to become a major supplier of InGaAs technology for short wave IR imaging solutions in night time applications. Now a member of the UTC Aeorspace Systems, Sensors Unlimited has completed a number of projects for the U.S. Department of Defense, through Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Night Vision Laboratory (NVL) of the U.S. Army.

Many SWIR camera capabilities are considered sensitive. If you would like to learn more about SWIR capabilities for the military, you can register at a special web site, You must be a US Government employee or a USG contractor and be a US Citizen to access this site.