Target Accuracy with Enhanced Situational Awareness
Short Wave Infrared imaging can be used in Driver Vision Enhancement (DVE). InGaAs cameras use reflected light from nightglow, urban glow, covert illuminators, or sunshine as their illumination source in order to aid the driver. Using these sources of illumination, SWIR imagery allows users to see standard taillights and headlights from other vehicles, as well as the surrounding street lights. An added advantage, unique to SWIR, is its ability to image using covert illumination; these illuminators can be used as headlights and taillights, and when paired with a Short Wave IR camera, the illumination enhances the driver's view of the road ahead and permits the driver to warn the convoy behind of sudden stops. Moreover, all the driver's movement and activity can not be detected by night vision goggles (NVGs), as all the light emitted from these illumination sources would be out of the NVG detection band.
Driving at 45 mph with lights OFF
This video shows that a roof mounted SWIR camera with 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.
In driver vision enhancement systems, SWIR imaging is effective because it aids in identification, not just detection. SWIR light is reflected, so features are very similar to visible light. Users can see shadows and differences between road surfaces and shoulders among other features (i.e. headlights and taillights) which could be lost in thermal driver vision enhancement systems. Thermal driver vision enhancement systems rely on temperature or emissivity differences which can make it difficult to see ruts or rocks in the roadway when all temperatures are similar. This makes it difficult to drive off road or on road, especially in convoys where it is tough to see brake lights. In the most effective use of SWIR illumination, the driver would have the ability to briefly turn on SWIR lights when ambient illumination is not available, such as when passing beneath heavy trees or in a tunnel. Mounted on an short mast, a small SWIR illuminator of just 5-10 watts would provide need daylight conditions with slight shadowing to add depth perception to the driver's view. This illumination is covert to NVGs.
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, www.swirconops.com. You must be a US Government employee or a USG contractor and be a US Citizen to access this site.