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RFEL unveils off-the-shelf driver vision aid for military vehicles

RFEL has unveiled Trailblazer, a new HD-SDI and Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) compliant military driver vision aid.

The driver camera sub-system is intended to improve driver and crew effectiveness by extending the field of view beyond the normal spectrum, even in adverse weather and low-light conditions, according to the company.

Navigating safely on the battlefield has and remains a challenge when the field of view is limited and threats are unknown. Where primary vision is restricted, such as in armoured vehicles operating with hatches down, Trailblazer’s dual-channel daylight and infrared video sensors, along with RFEL’s sophisticated image processing technology, can give the vehicle’s crew views from ahead and behind, in all weathers, day or night.

Trailblazer provides front and rear camera units as part of the system, and uses a high definition sensor and optical package to deliver multiple fields of view from within the total field of regard around the fore and aft install locations.

The inclusion of a high quality, long-wave infrared camera channel extends this capability across the thermal scene and a powerful on-board processing package, including RFEL’s Digital Video Fusion algorithm, means that Trailblazer is also able to deliver reliable and continuous manoeuvre capability.

Offering multiple, independent channel outputs on the network interface, Trailblazer has been designed to provide video to more than one user on the platform providing wide-angle situational awareness views in addition to driving views and, by exploiting the underlying higher resolution of the raw sensor, a high quality digital zoom capability. This can aid the driver in terrain negotiation and obstacle avoidance, route selection and improve manoeuvrability, whilst other crewmembers can assist with surveillance tasks in parallel to ensure safe and effective operation.

Output channels can be capped, fixed or shared over the available bandwidth, leaving the integrator fully in control of operating margins and reliability.

In order to provide greater flexibility the product has two complementary interfaces. The first is a native digital video HD-SDI output, requiring only simple coaxial cabling and a point-to-point installation to create a closed circuit driving aid, including connectivity to the rear view unit. The second is a GVA compliant DEF STAN 00-082 VIVOE (Vetronics Infrastructure for Video Over Ethernet) streaming interface, designed specifically to support the new breed of networked video vehicle electronics (Vetronics) architectures, such as the UK’s GVA. With their own respective control interfaces, these options can be used separately, or simultaneously, without impact on their individual performance.

Trailblazer incorporates RFEL’s multi-resolution advanced Digital Video Fusion. Rather than common blending, averaging and overlay approaches typically taken to make use of thermal scene data within an otherwise obscured daylight field of view, RFEL’s algorithm intelligently generates a composite output video stream on a pixel-by-pixel basis. This means no loss of higher resolution features from any one sensor; it also means no reduction in colour content due to bland and uniform thermal regions providing an augmented view of the widest spectrum of scenery data.

This is further enhanced by pre-processing techniques such as contrast enhancement and, optionally, high frequency Digital Stabilisation and/or customisable pseudo-colour highlighting.

Wayne Cranwell, RFEL’s Video Processing Business Development lead, commented, “We believe Trailblazer is going to be game-changing on technical merit alone, but as a turn-key solution, it will bring this capability within the scope of a much broader range of armoured and specialist military vehicles, in addition to emergency responder or industrial vehicles upgrades or new designs.”

Neil Tyler

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