Thermal Infrared Sensors for Traffic Apps

FLIR ITS is revolutionizing how traffic flows

Sun-Glare reduced - FLIR FC-Series ITS
Sun-Glare reduced with FLIR FC-Series ITS
Image Credit – FLIR ITS

Online  —   While video cameras are traditionally used for traffic video analysis, they need additional algorithms to overcome their inherent vulnerability to low visible light* conditions (nighttime), too much light (sun glare), and shadows that can hide vehicles or pedestrians.

Thermal infrared sensors do not have any problems with:

  • Sun Glare
  • Headlights
  • Shadows
  • Long-Range Night Viewing

Because they create a crisp thermal image based on subtle temperature differences, infrared sensors need no visible light to work, are not blinded by direct sunlight, and provide an uninterrupted 24-hour detection of vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, regardless of the amount of light available.

Glare from the sun blinds conventional video cameras, effectively hiding vehicles, people, and animals.

Thermal infrared sensors cannot see this glare, and only respond to the heat signatures they detect.

Headlights are confusing to video cameras, tricking them into triggering false and missed calls, and making accurate observation of highway traffic at night impossible.

Infrared sensors are immune to headlight glare, so they see clearly.

Video cameras can miss pedestrians, cyclists, animals, and even cars if they’re in the shadows. But since infrared sensors see heat-only generated infrared, not familiar visible light, they provide a much more reliable detection solution.

At night, a highway looks like an indistinct row of lights to a video camera, making meaningful data collection and incident assessment impossible.

Thermal infrared cameras see the heat signatures of vehicles clearly from miles away, while also providing clear video of the roadside so one can see vehicles that have pulled over.



  • Light: Some sales and marketing literature  try to simplify the physics of light, both visible and infrared radiation; but they chase their tails. Visible light is what we see with our eyes. Simple enough
  • Most sources of light, visual and infrared are, until the last 10 years or so, produce both visible and thermal infrared. In fact, our friendly nearby Sun is the largest source of both visible and infrared radiation we are likely to ever encounter in our lifetimes.
  • Thermal infrared radiation is also light, but in a part of the light spectrum that we cannot see, but we can feel its effect on surfaces like our skin and other surfaces that are warmed by enough by it.
  • There are electronic sensors that can respond (see) to visible light, e.g. photographic and videos cameras, there are electronic sensors that can respond to the thermal infrared light that we cannot see directly. The electronics then converts a thermal infrared image into one that we can see, and even goes further.
  • Thermal Infrared cameras (imagers) produce images in differing colors to represent the different temperatures on the object we view.
  • A computer with the right software can use either or both a visible image or an infrared thermal image to analyze what is in it and the changes occurring over time to control or manage elements in the scene.

The FLIR FC-Series ITS cameras are equipped with a maintenance-free uncooled microbolometer detector that produces accurate images on which the smallest detail can be seen.

See more on the FLIR ITS webpage FLIR FC-Series ITS Thermal imaging cameras for traffic monitoring at: