WaveSense adapts ground-penetrating radar tech for self-driving cars

Technology pioneered by MIT and adopted by the military can keep self-driving cars on the road in all kinds of weather.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt

Ground-penetrating radar isn't new technology, I mean they were using it in the first Jurassic Park movie for Pete's sake, but the idea of using it for autonomous vehicles is pretty new and a company called WaveSense thinks that GPR is just the ticket for helping self-driving cars navigate in bad weather.

The way it works is the WaveSense system will scan up to 10 feet below the surface of the road in order to lock on to stable ground. It can then use this data, combined with data from the vehicle's other onboard sensors, to build itself a map of subterranean features which is can then use to maintain its position on the road.

Obviously that is a supersimplified version of what is a technologically complex process, but the company says the system has been proven to work at an accuracy of up to 1 inch at highway speeds, regardless of road conditions.

"A massive transformation in transportation and mobility is underway around the world as autonomous systems advance," said WaveSense CEO Tarik Bolat. "But before broad adoption of self-driving vehicles can occur, navigation safety and reliability must improve significantly. WaveSense's technology radically improves the safety of self-driving vehicles in all conditions and provides the confidence and reliability our sector must demonstrate in order to earn the public's trust."

WaveSense says that its technology was created by MIT for the military and used in combat situations in Afghanistan as early as 2013.