Surveillance and Security News About TIG Developed NIR Illuminators

Electrophysics introduces a major advance in laser infrared illumination technology originally developed by FORD Motor Company. Designed for wide area surveillance the article discusses current illuminator technologies and range performance considerations.

Laser Focus World 5/23/2003


Using a new night vision sensor, scientists from the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) at the University of South Florida worked with rescuers in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley searching the ruins of Punta Gorda. Although as small as an over-sized flashlight, the sensor is as effective as a large spotlight. The beam, however, is invisible to the rescue personnel, allowing them to work without glare.

"The sensor emits a special form of light which is picked up by a modified camera, processed and displayed on a small screen, much like as if a flashlight were attached to a camcorder," said Robin Murphy, director of USF's CRASAR. "This sensor is different from night vision goggles or thermal cameras which sense the differing levels of heat radiating from objects. Thermal cameras produce fuzzy images that can be misleading, while the night vision camera produced images as clear as black and white pictures."

The sensor was originally developed by the Ford Motor Company for potential use in cars for enhancement of night-time driving. The Office of Naval Research quickly saw the value for homeland defense, including search and rescue, and in collaboration with Ford, loaned it to CRASAR for evaluation and testing. Hurricane Charley provided the necessity and opportunity.

"Usually we're limited to what we can see with a flashlight," said CRASAR scientist Sam Stover, an 11-year FEMA veteran. "With the night vision sensor, it was like having a huge spotlight. It let us see a much larger area and access damage and potential hazards more accurately while working in total darkness."

CRASAR was deployed from Tampa Bay when it was clear Charley would not hit the region and instead make landfall farther south, in Charlotte County. They were first to arrive on the scene late Friday evening to assist local responders. The new sensor was put to the test early Saturday morning.

"Normally, a prototype sensor would not be used in a real incident," explained Murphy. "However, the scientists had confidence in the technology, having used it in a collapsed dormitory just two weeks before during a rescue training exercise in Louisiana.

University of Southern Florida press release 8/18/2004

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Surveillance & Security News About TIG-developed NIR Illuminators