Due to the lack of natural predators, the populations of many animals have steadily encroached into suburban settings. These animals, most notably deer, have become a significant hazard to drivers leading to many accidents and deaths.
The proposed concept is to utilize COTS infrared hardware to provide the driver of a vehicle with realtime information about potential hazards associated with deer and other animals that may be present in a wide area in front of their vehicle. The automobile is outfitted with an infrared detector that has a wide field of view and is calibrated to located objects with temperatures that correspond to typical warm blooded animals. If the system detects objects that meet the criteria it provides a simple warning to the driver as to the location of the possible hazard. The assumption is that once the driver is aware of the hazard they will be more alert and thus be better able to avoid a collision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates there are approximately 1.5 million auto-deer collisions per year, resulting in damage losses of around $1.5 billion USD, which works out to an average cost of $1,000 per accident. State Farm Insurance Agency also supports these statistics, and goes on to report that, in the year 2004, there were 150 human deaths in the United States that were directly linked to car-deer accidents.