ICU reducing the number of accidents on the road

2 July, 2008 - 12:00

Low-cost Infrared Night Vision System reducing the number of accidents on the road

Press Release ICU Project Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Europe joins R&D forces to develop Low-cost Infrared Night Vision System for the Automotive reducing the number of accidents on the road.

Brussels, Belgium - Six of Europe’s leading companies and research establishments have joined forces in the strategic research project “Infrared Imaging Components for Use in Automotive Safety Applications ICU”. ICU aims at prototyping a low-cost infrared night vision system that can resolve a pedestrian or animal on the road. The infrared imaging system will be developed to provide high contrast images of warm (living) objects completely independent of ambient light conditions and is expected to considerably increase safety on the roads. In particular if we get such a system within a few years in our cars it will reduce accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and animals thereby reducing the death toll and the number of seriously injured.

“Besides applications in the automotive, the infrared imaging system will also find use in security, surveillance, process automation, thermography, retail and, smart buildings” says Tom Krekels from Umicore.

The infrared night vision system will be composed of several sub-components. The development will focus on the two main cost drivers, the infrared bolometer sensor array and the infrared lens system. Each of these components individually, their co-development, and their assembly represent a considerable scientific and technological challenge.

“The most important challenge of all, however, is to achieve optimum performance at the lowest cost, such that the infrared imaging module is affordable for everyone and as such can be integrated in high volume applications”, said Frank Niklaus from KTH and ICU project coordinator. “Low cost infrared components will enable wide spread use of infrared technology in automotive safety applications such as pedestrian and animal detection”, Dick Eriksson of Autoliv said.

The European consortium which will develop this new photonic system involves 6 companies or research institutes, all key-role players in infrared photonics. The industrial partners in ICU are market leaders in automotive safety systems (Autoliv Development AB, Sweden), in automotive component manufacturing (Infineon Technologies SensoNor AS, Norway), and in high-volume infrared optics (Umicore NV, Belgium). The universities or research institutes that will participate in the project (Acreo AB, Sweden; KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) all have a strong track record in research and development of photonic components and technologies.

The ICU project is supported by the European Community in the framework of the FP7 Information and Communication Technologies Programme (2007-2013, see The ICU project kicked off in Brussels on May 27th and will run for two and a half years until October 2010.

Partner description and contact persons:

Source: BWM AG 

Autoliv, SwedenAutoliv develops and manufactures automotive safety systems for all major automotive manufacturers in the world. Autoliv has developed an infrared vision enhancement which is in production with BMW.

Contact person:Dick Eriksson, Autoliv Development AB, +46 322 626 306, dick.eriksson [at]

Infineon Technologies SensoNor AS, NorwayInfineon Technologies SensoNor AS has leading expertise in development, design and manufacturing of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS), including key competence in wafer level bonding in controlled environments.

Contact person:Dr. Anders Elfving, Infineon Technologies SensoNor AS, +47 33035157, anders.elfving [at]

Umicore NV, BelgiumUmicore is a materials company active in applications, such as solar cells, car catalysts, batteries and infrared optics. Umicore provides moulded infrared optics for automotive, thermography and other applications.

Contact person:Dr. Tom Krekels, Umicore Electro-Optic Materials, +32 14 24 5305, tom.krekels [at]

KTH - Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden (Project Coordinator)KTH is one of the foremost technical universities in Europe and devoted to world high-class research. The Microsystem Technology Group at KTH has a very strong track-record in MEMS and photonic research.

Contact person:Dr. Frank Niklaus, KTH, + 46 8 790 9332, frank.niklaus [at]

Acreo AB, SwedenAcreo AB is a research institute working in the fields of electronics, optics and communication technology. Acreo has a long history of developing and manufacturing infrared detector systems and contributes to the project with its expertise in sensor materials, microsystem manufacturing technology and ASIC design.

Contact person:Dr. Per Ericsson, Acreo AB, +46 8 632 7742, [at]

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, BelgiumThe Department of Applied Physics and Photonics (TONA) is a research group within the Faculty of Engineering of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). The group is internationally recognized for its basic, strategic, and applied research in the field of "micro-optics" and “micro-photonics”, and is also uniquely involved in industrially-oriented research projects.

Contact person:Prof. Hugo Thienpont, VUB, + 32 2 629 34 53, hthienpo [at]