, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 313-320

Automatic detection of vehicle occupants: the imaging problemand its solution

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The automatic detection and counting of vehicle occupants is a challenging research problem that was given little attention until recently. An automated vehicle-occupant-counting system would greatly facilitate the operation of freeway lanes reserved for car pools (high occupancy vehicle lanes or HOV lanes). There are three major aspects of this problem: (a) the imaging aspect (sensor phenomenology), (b) the pattern recognition aspect, and (c) the system architecture aspect. In this paper, we present a solution to the imaging aspect of the problem. We propose a novel system based on fusion of near-infrared imaging signals and we demonstrate its adequacy with theoretical and experimental arguments. We also compare our solution to other possible solutions across the electromagnetic spectrum, particularly in the thermal infrared and visible regions.