LIDAR The Future Of Driverless Transport Technologies

Technology And Transportation
Technology And Transportation
Future Transportation Technology
Future Transportation Technology

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) using LIDAR sensors is a promising driverless transport technology for autonomous vehicles, as it gives them the vision to navigate. This technology when combined with vision and radar systems, gives a kind of sensitivity similar to human vision. LIDAR gives accuracy and precision to object detection capabilities of ADAS that utilize AI for analysing the data and thereby enables object recognition. The combination of vision, RADAR and LIDAR sensors will create an automated driving experience that is really safe for the passengers.

LIDAR For Automated Vehicles

The trend for automated vehicles is picking up and automobile companies are coming up with their own Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Besides, the technology is getting cheaper as the sensors and other hardware used in its manufacturing are becoming affordable. Also, bear in mind that for the ADAS to be completely automated, they cannot only be dependent on vision and RADAR based systems and this is where the role of LIDAR comes into play. It has the capability to identify the nature of the terrain and hence can provide better driver assistance.

This combination of LIDAR, RADAR and vision based sensors provides inclusive safety solutions that pave the way for safer automated or driverless vehicles. Not only that, but the inclusion of AI as part of this system is like adding brains. This makes it an efficient and reliable system that can navigate possibly any kind of terrain which keeps on improving as it covers more distance. Above all, some of the best prototypes of automated vehicles from vehicle manufacturers use LIDAR based ADAS.

Automotive LIDAR Systems

The abbreviation of LIDAR is light imaging, detection and ranging. It creates a 3D image of the surroundings by emitting invisible laser lights for scanning and detecting objects in its near vicinity and far away. This 3D projection of the surrounding world is usually displayed on a screen inside the vehicle in most advanced prototypes from automobile manufacturers. These LIDAR sensors are usually placed on top of the vehicles from which the laser beams are emitted in 360o and then bounced back which are picked up by the sensors. This data is processed in real-time with the help of advanced machine learning algorithms to create a live 3D map of the outside world.

Different Types Of Automotive LIDAR Sensors

There are mainly two types of automotive LIDAR sensors and they are listed below.

Electromechanical LIDAR: This can be considered as the first generation of LIDAR systems developed for automotive applications. It consists of a mechanical spinning LIDAR sensor that is placed on top of the vehicle and it emits an array of laser beams in the direction of the targeted area. Because a number of moving parts are required for making it, the system can be quite cumbersome and expensive. Moreover, because of the presence of many mechanical parts, it is very susceptible to wear and tear especially on rough terrains. But, it continuously scans the surrounding areas and has a very long range because of its placement on top of the vehicle.

Solid State LIDAR: Solid state LIDARs are not bulky like electromechanical LIDARs because the entire system is built on a single chip. All the components of a LIDAR system are integrated on a single chip i.e. emitter, receiver and processors. Due to this, it is very compact in size. They are not very visible upon installation unlike traditional LIDAR systems, and are cost-effective. They can be fixed at the front, rear and sides of a vehicle. Solid state LIDAR is a key future transportation technology that is being advanced and perfected now.

Solid state LIDAR systems function similarly to electro mechanical LIDAR. They have optical emitters that send bursts of photons to the surrounding area, these photons hit objects, bounce back and are received by the receiver. Also, they need not adjust the position as they are fixed on different sides of a vehicle. Moreover, there is a pattern for the emitted light from the optical emitter. The light signals received by the receiver are processed by an onboard computer in the vehicle to create a live 3D map of the surrounding world. This technology, along with advanced AI, will take the current ADAS into its next phase of evolution to create truly autonomous vehicles.

LIDAR Sensors As Complementary To Vision And RADAR Based ADAS System

A vision based system is useful in situations where the visibility is high, but its performance drops in poor visibility conditions like rain, fog, smoke etc. A RADAR based system is better in low visibility conditions and has a longer range. LIDAR is better at detecting object shapes and recognising them. Also, it identifies its surrounding world in 3D and this when combined with the previous two systems increases the accuracy of ADAS. With this integrated system, it is easy to differentiate between pedestrians, cars, trees, objects, etc. along with their velocity ns real-time.

As per the experts, LIDAR based ADAS is the future of driverless transport technologies and most leading automobile companies have invested heavily in its research and development.

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