The arrival of winter brings with it many things, from cooler temperatures to (gasp!) snow. Another sign of the arrival of Old Man Winter – travelling during winter often means travelling in the dark. Finding ways to make travel safer for you, especially during the darker months of the year, is what keeps us going. The infrared illuminator is one bright idea we use to light up remote areas for BC HighwayCam coverage.
Illuminators are based on military night vision technology adapted for “civilian use”. We’re not talking about tanks or secret agents here; the illuminator is just a type of high tech lighting that we use to temporarily “see” darkened roads, sort of like the night vision goggles used in the movies.
We attach illuminators to some of the same poles that hold our BC HighwayCams and program the webcam system to turn on the illuminator just seconds before the webcam takes a night shot. The system turns the illuminator on just prior to use and off after to conserve energy. The illuminator floods the area around the camera with infrared light and the camera snaps its image. Because we use infrared light to capture images, we can ensure that drivers on the road are not disrupted by any periodic light flashing.
Why don’t we put this technology on all of our webcams? Basically, because most of our cameras are located in areas with existing power and lighting, we don’t have to. However, in the more remote locations of the province, where power and lighting is not readily available, BC HighwayCams use solar power to generate images of highway conditions and infrared illuminators help to shed some light on those lonely stretches of road when we need it.
Curious to know which of our BCHighwayCams use infrared technology? Here is a list for you to check out this evening:
- BCHwy3 @ Kootenay Pass
- BCHwy3 @ Eholt Summit
- BCHwy3 @ Paulson Summit
- Duffy Lake Rd North of Pemberton
- BCHwy6 @ Monashee Pass
- BCHwy33 @ McCulloch
- BCHwy23 @ 50 Mile
- BCHwy28 West of Campbell River
- BCHwy4 @ Sutton Pass
- BCHwy16 @ Bowron River
So, while we can’t stop the cold or the snow and even though the darkness of these winter months is a fact of life – we hope your travels will be a bit smoother because of technology like this, hard at work to help you know before you go.