There are a number of things we have agreed so far; one is that autonomous cars will be driverless, cruising planet earth in the next couple of years. Second is that they will need extremely precise sensing and other tech steadiness to do their thing. Finally, every respectable car maker is making a rush to this direction and even start-ups smelling the honeypot are aligning themselves to take a lick from it.
Having sensed the opportunities therein, Volvo Cars has partnered with San Francisco-based lidar startup Luminar in the development of core sensing technology for autonomous vehicles. They two were out for the AutoMobility Los Angeles in November demonstrating what they have been cooking behind the scenes.
It was not all about big talk but impressive results too. The core thing that Luminars high-performance sensing platform promises are; range, resolution, and fidelity. This, says company founder and CEO Austin Russell, is necessary to achieve safer-than-human understanding of core driving tasks and edge case scenarios.
Through this tech, Volvo Cars R&D team demonstrated the first ever LiDAR-based pose estimation for autonomous driving. What is this, you ask?
Pose estimation is a sensing technology to understand and predict pedestrian body language, behavior, and intention. It has previously been used with significant success 2D data from cameras. LiDAR enhances this with 3D camera-like resolution to respond to prediction challenges for distances near and far.
Earlier in the year, Luminar announced a new software suite called a “perception development” kit. With this kit, data from lidar sensors is annotated with precision and accuracy. For instance,if a black car ahead has stalled, Luminar’s lidars will not only detect that but label that detection accordingly.
The significance of such an achievement cannot be underestimated in the view of autonomous cars.
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