See how lidar works and why it's coming to your next car
Cooley On Cars
If you're at all interested in self-driving cars you've heard the term LIDAR.
It's a contraction of light detection and ranging, or it's this.
Inside is one or more laser emitter that send out a signal to bounce off objects in the real world.
In this case, as the unit spins.
Sending out the laser signals in a 360 degree array, into has multiple lasery meters, to aim low, high and mostly in the middle.
That's ideal for a car that's moving, trying to track object around it that are moving, and do that in 3D.
Glader is the best in telling you the distance to a future, and clear that its covering the mapping the entire area.
Lidar is simply used for HD Maps, when you hear mapping referred to with lidar, we're not talking about navigational maps.
But rather, contour maps, or what they call in the lidar business, Point Clouds.
But know, that when you see these cool lidar visualizations, those are just for you.
The computer in a self-driving car sees a vast array of mathematical relations.
It really is about features, the position of the road and the lanes on a road relative to curves and things like that.
And relative to buildings and other landmarks.
Wheras the maps we use for navigating typically aren't that acurate.
And they're more about points of interest, street names, and really picking a route.
Well this was the first sensor, I think, that anybody ever made, whose output was intended to be used by a computer.
David Hall is founder and CEO of Velodyne.
He has the patent on 360 3D Lydar
What does the computer want to see?
He says well, it wants to see something that's really unambiguous.
It's either a one or a zero.
None of this stuff in between.
And at a distance, how far it is away are some of the hardest things to get on camera because you don't really know, and you kinda tell from a camera.
Well, it's about this far.
So the laser told you the distance.
And actually, I just told you, they'll send the laser beams out.
If they never came back, there was nothing there.
Nothing there for you to run into, the car can just go like hell.
In the end, our cars will continue to embrace an array of sensors, not just lidar.
Radar remains strong at being affordable, working at long ranges, and quickly figuring out the distance to an object.
But not too accurately it's shape and contours or classification.
Cameras excel in other areas.
Detecting the color of objects and their shading, recognizing the contours of text or picking up painted lane lines that have almost no physical presence but mostly a visual one Camera data is different than light r data which is different than radar data.
And so how you process that data is different and then what you do later on in the stages of the pipeline or how you communicate to the cloud with that data is also different.
What's next for automotive lidar?
Lidar is still measured in thousands of dollars per unit.
Seemingly cheap for what it does but try hiding that in the MSRP of a VW Jetta.
Packaging, the LIDAR units spinning on top of a car today looks cool but carmakers want them to vanish eventually.
I see those cars throughout the town and I see that thing spinning up there and I said, there's a good looking car.
So I'm a little bit reluctant to go and hide the thing inside the body.
It's like, come on, it's my car That probably means the push towards lighter units that have a fixed view of 70 or 80 degrees, but mounting several of those around the car, behind dark lenses.
And cohesion, the auto industry likes to use a whole lot of one or two types of art, but I recently lost count of about 40 companies that are developing some kind of lighter for the car business And range.
There's a push to move LiDAR from today's laser wavelength that can damage retinas, unless the power is limited, to a different wavelength that cannot damage eyes.
Allowing the laser power to rise and LiDAR range to go up with it.
Maybe the most impressive aspect of the LIDAR is until recently it was a hundred thousand dollar component too delicate to imagine being on the road other than technology trial.
Today it's given in cars of the near future not just to help [INAUDIBLE] but also better versions of todays driver are safe.
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