Remember the commercials for Cadillac’s night vision system a few years back? Much like GM you probably forgot all about them. Well, the next time you spot a 2000-2005 Deville with what appears to be a stolen crest from its (dark grey) grill go in for a closer look, that’s where they mounted the camera for that night vision setup. I came across this one at Biosphere 2, which seems like the perfect place to spot old future-technology. The idea with this system was that for (only) $1,995 you could keep yourself aware of whatever night time danger may be ahead by projecting a live feed from a night shot camera onto your front window.
The system itself is a bit more complicated than you would think. At this point it’s pretty safe to assume that you have messed with the infrared nightshot mode on a video camera at sometime. Well, the system Cadillac uses is actually nothing like that. They implemented a full on thermal imaging system built by Raytheon (a major US defense contractor).
The way the system works is by capturing thermal radiation emitted by objects rather then projecting infrared light and receiving it back (camcorders). They chose this style of system because at the time thermal cameras had a better range (about 1,000 ft) and a much higher contrast for warmer objects (deer, children, smaller cars). The downside to this system would be that it’s a bit more grainy and isn’t too friendly with hot environments. It made its debut on the 2000 Cadillac Deville.. 13 years ago in all of it’s 320×240 resolution glory. Obviously IR technology and image sensors have improved tenfold, leaving no reason to have a pricey thermographic camera in your car. I find it interesting that what was once fancy Desert Storm government equipment is now sitting in the grill and dash of 10 year old Cadillacs.
This was one of their first attempts at trying to bring back ‘the good ol days’ of Cadillac, it’s even rumored that they at one point had even planned to put it into the XLR! It didn’t pan out but I’m certainly glad they tried, being the first company to do something is always a risk. Even though most of the systems are either broken or never used by their 80 year old drivers (the give me every option type). I’m glad they are out there and would definitely like to see one in action.
A couple notes:
- it was available from 2000 model year through the first half of 2005
- there is a group of thermal imaging diehards who buy and use the camera for non driving uses
- there is a TSB for the earlier models due to cracking lenses “01-08-49-008″ JUNE 2001 Night Vision Camera Lens – Repair Kit
- the updated camera has a small grill in front of it