NEWPORT, UK - RFEL, who specialises in high performance, electronic video and signal processing solutions, in collaboration with KTK Kommunikationstechnik, GuS and Rheinmetall Defence, will be launching an advanced fused Driver Vision Enhancement (fDVE) solution at Eurosatory (http://www.eurosatory.com).
Typical sensor types used for defence applications are daylight sensors (mostly CCD), lowlight sensors (image intensifier tubes) or thermal imaging sensors (MWIR/LWIR). Each type of sensor has its specific advantages and disadvantages. Whilst daylight sensors are good in daylight conditions, they tend to be bad in lowlight conditions. On the other hand, thermal imaging sensors excel in daylight or lowlight situations but tend to show less detail. The typical solution is to blend daylight and thermal imaging but this results in a loss of contrast and definition relative to the original daylight image.
From a logistics and procurement perspective, the present approach assures a high return on investment. Not every vehicle has to be equipped with day and thermal vision all of the time, particularly when most vehicles are in storage, unused, or sitting in a depot. Expensive sensors can be pooled for usage within missions and can be swapped to different "fresh vehicles whenever an equipped vehicle needs to be replaced.
At the heart of this new fDVE is the HALO™ Video Processing Solution from RFEL. This FPGA-based platform processes all video streams with the minimum possible latency in order to be suitable for "man in the loop usage", such as for driving purposes.
The solution combines several key functions that add value to the user, such as:
- Video scaling
- Image stabilisation
- Image fusion (e.g. day / thermal)
- Image contrast enhancement
- Image overlay such as PiP (Picture in Picture)
- Correction of lens distortion
One core functionality -- image fusion between two sensors -- is completely different from simple image blending. RFEL's state-of-the-art fusion algorithm processes the images captured by two sensors, generally from different wavelengths, and is able to maintain the best attributes from both input images for the resulting output. This, in combination with image stabilisation, provides the user with the best view possible for informed decisions.
The fDVE concept can also be adapted to other applications such as reconnaissance or situational awareness. Customer and vehicle-specific integration capabilities as well as integration of a fDVE within vehicle modernisation programmes are possible.
All HALO products have a range of built-in IP-blocks: video input switch, test pattern generator, video output switch, software frame grab, digital zoom and digital overlay.
Additional video processing IP-blocks that can be easily added to HALO products are:
- Intelligent fusion of multi-modal imagery, such as from daylight and IR cameras.
- Image stabilisation, even when the platform is subject to severe vibration, and when the imagery is sparse in features or of low contrast.
- Contrast enhancement to maintain high performance operation in marginal lighting conditions for both visible and IR wavebands.
- Noise reduction for optimising operation in low ambient light and for ensuring robust image fusion.
- Lens distortion correction.
- Support for compression standards.