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Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
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Infrared Inspection System (IRIS)

The Department of Motor Vehicles IRIS van is equipped with the latest in infrared thermal imaging technology critical to ensuring the safety of the public traveling throughout the Commonwealth. Infrared screening technology improves highway safety, increases efficiency, saves truckers time and money, and removes unsafe vehicles from the highway.

Photograph of a technician reviewing the IRIS imaging screen


The infrared camera detects failed brakes, under-inflated or blown tires, and leaky exhaust systems. As pressure is applied to properly functioning brakes, heat is generated and glows bright white on the thermal imaging monitor. Inoperable brakes show very little light or none at all.

Image from the IRIS thermal imaging monitor showing differences between inoperable and properly functioning brakes


Thermal imaging also detects deflated tires. On occasion, truck drivers are unaware an interior tire has blown. On the IRIS monitor, a blown tire looks like fireworks.

Image from the IRIS thermal imaging monitor


A second color camera focuses on the overall truck to capture pertinent identifying information in case the truck is stopped such as the license plate number, state inspection information, and vehicle color.

Photograph of the IRIS unit standing on a tripod behind the truck


The cameras on the IRIS unit are housed in a circular pod that can be mounted on a hitch behind the IRIS van or on a free-standing tripod. This configuration offers many advantages including a closer view of the truck's brakes, brake drums and interior tires.

Photograph of the IRIS controller


Both cameras, the infrared lens and regular color lens, are controlled with a single handheld controller.

National numbers indicate about 24 percent of the trucks inspected are placed out of service using the traditional random selection process. Of the trucks screened by IRIS that are determined to have operating problems, about 90 percent are taken out of service.

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