UAE: Got a solution? Win $75,000 as contest to track objects in dark using AI launched

Infrared thermal imaging and tracking can be used in multiple industries, such as the medical field, industrial sector, and emergency services or disaster management


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 7 Feb 2023, 6:59 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Feb 2023, 3:12 PM

Abu Dhabi entity has launched a competition to create artificial intelligence solutions capable of tracking objects in the dark, which can impact automotive and healthcare industries, emergency services, disaster management and more.

The ‘Infrared Tracking Challenge’ by Technology Innovation Institute’s Autonomous Robotics Research Center (ARRC) will award the winning submissions a total of $75,000.

Dr Najwa Aaraj, chief researcher, Cryptography Research Centre and ARRC, noted that TII is using the crowdsourcing competition to discover machine learning-based solutions that can detect, track and re-identify objects in the dark, with only thermal or heat data.

“Autonomous ground vehicles can understand their environment by applying deep-learning-based algorithms on top of perceptual information acquired from their sensors. At night, however, due to the low light conditions, the use of a standard RGB imager is not adequate,” Dr Aaraj told Khaleej Times.

The competition brings together innovators, technical experts, research institutes, and university students from around the world to develop approaches to efficiently track objects in the dark, in both structured and unstructured environments – the objects in question could include pedestrians, buggies, and motorcyclists, to name a few.

Dr Aaraj underlined that these AI solutions are invaluable in a wide range of vehicle systems within the automotive industry.

“One of the solutions AI makes possible is infrared thermal imaging, which helps enhance night vision.”

Dr Najwa Aaraj
Dr Najwa Aaraj

Dr Aaraj said the databases of pictures of roads in urban, rural, and other environments taken during the day and at night are used to improve autonomous perception in different traffic conditions.

“The flow of images from a vehicle’s two sensors is captured and used to feed the AI algorithms that power different vehicle systems. The images captured must be annotated clearly to help the algorithms learn them. Here, deep learning is used to automatically model the data gathered so that the AI can learn it, ultimately improving applications for infrared technology such as obstacle and pedestrian detection.”

Infrared thermal imaging and tracking can be used in multiple industries such as the medical field, industrial sector, and emergency services or disaster management.

“In healthcare, thermal imaging can reveal inflamed tissue, detect muscle injuries or diabetes, monitor peripheral circulation disorders, and identify tumours, to identify just a few. Industry professionals can use thermal imaging technology to analyse or keep a close eye on any sensitive components in a petrochemical facility or high-risk installation subject to Seveso legislation,” Dr Aaraj said.

“It can ensure process control in an in-service oven or track tank levels in the petrochemical industry to help detect and prevent any integrity defects that may cause a serious fire or another catastrophic event. Thermal imaging can be used in the event of an emergency or disaster – in firefighting, for example. By rendering infrared radiation as visible light, this technology allows firefighters to see areas of heat through smoke, darkness, or heat-permeable barriers.”

The competition is being held in partnership with HeroX, a crowdsourcing platform. Deadline for submissions is April 5. On May 17, three winners will be announced with first prize of $40,000, second ($20,000) and third ($15,000). To register, visit:


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