Monday, August 15, 2011

Machine vision in transportation

Over the years I’ve been writing this blog I’ve devoted many posts to the growing role of machine vision in our cars and trucks. However, I don’t think I’ve paid as much attention to what might be called the highway side of machine vision. This relates to the growing use of camera systems for traffic monitoring, along with the commensurate growth traffic video analytics.

It was an article in Traffic Technology International, “Rise of the machines,” (where have we heard that phrase before?) that alerted me to the growth in this machine vision market. In fact for some camera makers, such as AVT, intelligent transportation systems (ITS) now represent a bigger market than traditional industrial users of machine vision.

Clearly, traffic has huge replication potential – just count how many intersections and sets of traffic lights you pass on your way to work – but it also presents some significant challenges. Dynamic range is one such, but another is temperature. (For reasons I don’t understand, it seems that ITS in China have the biggest range of temperatures to deal with.)

The machine vision industry, being rather small, has tended to be a technology follower, purloining innovations made in other industries for our own use, and I suspect transportation will serve us the same way. As cameras are developed with higher dynamic range and greater temperature capabilities, look for these improvements to trickle down to a factory near you.

Machine vision in transportation: it could be good for us factory folks too.

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