Press Releases

IEM Advances Thermal Imaging for Transportation Safety and Security Applications,   
Thursday, Feb 25, 2016

All objects emit thermal radiation. In recent years the availability of affordable imaging sensors and cameras capable of detecting and measuring this radiation has made it possible to use thermal imaging in a variety of transportation related applications. International Electronic Machines Corporation, a Troy, NY based firm focusing on transportation safety and security solutions, developed a suite of products that leverage current and emerging infrared technology. Built upon a portfolio of patents and pending-patents, IEM’s thermal imaging technologies offer a variety of benefits to our customers.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspection:

Safety inspections of commercial motor vehicles require trained inspectors and take close to an hour per vehicle to complete. With literally tens of millions of CMV’s on the highways, safety inspection requires screening. For many years, inspectors realized that use of infrared thermometers and even handheld thermal cameras could be used to prescreen vehicles. While these tools positively affect the selection of vehicles for inspection, they require dedicated inspectors to operate and rely on very limited information from one wheel or one side of the vehicle. What was needed was an automated means for applying thermal imaging to CMV inspection. Between 2006 and 2009, IEM worked with Federal and state government agencies to develop SIRIS™, the world’s first Smart Infrared Inspection System. The SIRIS™ patent-pending design uses a pair of thermal cameras to capture images of each wheel as the vehicle passes. SIRIS automatically evaluates temperature data from these images to screen the vehicle for possible issues with brakes, tires, or bearings. When SIRIS™ detects a problem, it alerts inspectors via a simple user interface that enables a fast determination of whether the flagged vehicle requires more thorough inspection.

Currently installed at a weigh station in Tennessee, SIRIS™ has helped officers screen vehicles since 2009. In a 2011 study conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratories and published by FMCSA, SIRIS™ proved to be an effective prescreening tool. Results of a blind test demonstrated that more than 80% of vehicles flagged by SIRIS™ had problems with brakes, tires, or bearings, compared to only about 35% using current screening methods.

Today, SIRIS™ remains the first and only third-party validated thermal inspection system for CMV inspection. Unlike predecessor technologies, SIRIS™ does not require a dedicated operator, thus freeing inspectors for what they were trained for: inspecting vehicles. By evaluating thermal information from the entire vehicle as a unit, SIRIS™ has proven its reliability as a screening tool. These benefits add up to a simple conclusion: SIRIS™ offers improved CMV safety inspections without adding to overall costs.

Railroad Wheel Inspection

IEM has taken the core ideas used in the development of SIRIS™ and applied them to similar concerns in the railroad and rail transit industry. Two areas critical for rail application are wheel temperature, which indicates whether or not brakes function properly, and bearing temperature, a critically important concern for rail operators. SIRIS for Rail™, currently deployed on railways throughout the U.S., records thermal images of wheels and extracts temperature information from areas of interest. The detailed thermal imaging provides in-depth understanding of brake performance. Depending on the conditions, a hot wheel may be expected and cold wheel would generate a flag; while under other conditions, a hot wheel may indicate a stuck brake requiring attention. With respect to bearing condition, use of thermal imaging technology results in virtually no false positives, a problem that plagues railroads relying strictly on current state of the art hot box detectors.

High Speed Thermal Imaging

Current infrared sensing technology has one important limitation: speed. Affordable sensors and cameras often limit the vehicles being inspected to low speeds to reduce blurring. IEM leads advanced research and development activity aimed at extending the benefits of smart infrared inspection to vehicles traveling at much higher speeds. With continued support from government and industry, IEM has identified a range of emerging technologies that will allow future versions of both SIRIS™ and SIRIS for Rail™ to inspect vehicles at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Future Development Currently, IEM looks for solutions to serious safety issues, including grade crossing safety, bus fires, and advanced hot box detection for trains. Through development of patent-pending high speed infrared cameras, use of multispectral image fusion, and analytic software capable of extracting and analyzing temperature data, IEM remains on the forefront of this exciting technological wave. We will be demonstrating our latest technologies at Railway Interchange Sept. 18th-21st (Booth # 3351) and at APTA Expo 2011 (Booth # 5443). Come visit us to learn about our latest innovations.

About IEM:

IEM develops, produces, and markets innovative imaging, optical, and other sensor based systems for safety and security applications in the intelligent transportation system industry. By combining innovative sensor systems with advanced software, IEM creates intelligent solutions for use in vehicle inspection, security monitoring, maintenance activities, and more. IEM hold multiple patents covering a wide range of technologies including advanced machine vision, non-destructive evaluation, thermal infrared inspection, innovative cameras, security monitoring, and wireless sensors and sensor networks.