Self Driving Taxis Within Next Year

lyftGeneral Motors Co. and Lyft Inc. announced that they will begin testing a fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric taxis on public roads, a move central to the companies’ joint efforts to challenge Silicon Valley giants in the battle to reshape the auto industry.

The plan is being hatched a few months after GM invested $500 million in Lyft, a ride-hailing company whose services rival Uber Technologies Inc. The program will rely on technology being acquired as part of GM’s separate $1 billion planned purchase of San Francisco-based Cruise Automation Inc., a developer of autonomous-driving technology.

Details of the autonomous-taxi testing program are still being worked out, according to a Lyft executive, but it will include customers in a yet-to-be disclosed city. Customers will have the opportunity to opt in or out of the pilot when hailing a Lyft car from the company’s mobile app.

This technology is moving a lot faster than most people expected.

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USGS Lidar Topography Seminar

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New Solid State Lidar Sensor

quanergyQuanergy Systems, Inc., a leading provider of LiDAR sensors and smart sensing solutions, continues to revolutionize the LiDAR sensor space with the development of the all-new S3-Qi, a miniature solid state LiDAR sensor that is 15% the size of the previous solid state model (S3). Quanergy will display the new sensor in Booth 767 at Xponential, May 3-5, in New Orleans.

Only four months after the unveiling of the industry-changing S3 solid state LiDAR sensor, Quanergy expands its portfolio with the S3-Qi sensor and advances the state of the art in solid state LiDAR technology by setting new benchmarks in size with a 1” x 1.5” footprint, weight at about 100 grams, and low power consumption. The small form factor, combined with a cost-effective design, makes the S3-Qi well suited in multiple applications including drones, intelligent robotics, security, smart homes and industrial automation. Mass production of the S3-Qi is targeted for Q1 2017.

This is a glimpse into the future.

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Lidar News Today – May 3, 2016

Blog Forum AdThe Lidar News eNewsletter this week features an interesting article from the team at Direct Dimensions about supporting a sculptor with a massive scale up of his 3D model into a spectacular bronze horse. In addition, there is a report on an indoor localization competition and the development of a new application category being termed “industrial geomatics.”

I will be taking  on the role of the roving reporter next week at the Certainty 3D TopoDOT User Conference in Orlando, FL. I hope to see you there.

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New UAV Website

500ftruleDiversified Communications has just announced that they have launched a new website focused on the UAV market. Commercial UAV News is a new website that will focus on as the name implies, the disruptive UAV and UAS market.

“We realized there was a need for a news and information resource focused on commercial UAVs that goes beyond the confines of a three day event, and Commercial UAV News was born,” commented Lisa Murray, Director of Commercial UAV Expo.

Commercial UAV News will provide daily news, insight, guest blogs, interviews, reports and more, focusing on UAVs/UAS in these seven industries:

  • Process, Power, Utilities
  • Civil Infrastructure
  • Construction
  • Law Enforcement, Emergency Response, Search and Rescue
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Surveying & Mapping
  • Mining & Aggregates

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SpaceX Gets GPS Satellite Launch

rocketIt was reported last week that the U.S. Air Force will save 40 percent by buying a GPS satellite launch from Elon Musk’s SpaceX compared with what United Launch Alliance has been charging, the head of the Space and Missile Systems Center said on Thursday.

The Air Force on Wednesday awarded SpaceX an $83 million contract to launch the satellite, breaking the monopoly that ULA partners Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co had held on military space launches for more than a decade.

The Air Force had relied solely on United Launch Alliance to launch satellites for the past decade, but decided to open up competition for a series of nine satellite launches to be awarded by 2018.

Here’s a link to a recent launch and rocket recovery which is the key to the SpaceX lower cost model.

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Finding Lidar Data

usgsThe USGS hosts what it calls the National Map Download Client which is a searchable database of lidar data collections for the U.S.

The site features a number of advanced search options that can be used to more quickly locate the geospatial information that you are looking for. There are elevation products, hydrography, imagery, landcover, transportation, a structures and a geographic names database that can be very helpful for large scale planning and historical research.

Definitely an important tool in the toolbox.

Posted in airborne LiDAR, Data, Environmental, Government, Mapping | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Indoor Localization Competition

viennaThis report appeared in Robotics Tomorrow.

The Microsoft Indoor Localization Competition is a well-known annual benchmark for assessing many approaches to indoor localization. The purpose of the competition was to bring together real-time indoor location technologies and compare their performance in the same space. The competition had nearly 50 competitors in 2D and the more challenging 3D category.
Each team had 15 minutes to locate 15 markers throughout the evaluation area, the foyer of a large facility in Vienna. All results were compared to ground truth that was measured from a stationary terrestrial laser scanner. The competition was challenging because the venue was dynamic with many people moving throughout the space.

Real Earth was the only team to not rely on infrastructure in the 3D category and used only onboard sensors to provide localization. At the completion of the competition, the results showed Real Earth’s device to have the most accurate localization with 0.16-meter average error compared to ground truth.
Kevin Dowling, CEO of Real Earth said, “It has been exciting to be part of this competition and watch our algorithms perform in difficult and dynamic environments. I have seen LiDAR devices evolve since the 1980s from expensive large and heavy devices the size of a microwave oven to the small and lightweight devices of today, such as the Velodyne units. The developments in the near future will prove to be even more exciting as both autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles incorporate these devices.”

It appears to be the SLAM technology when combined with the Velodyne Puck that enabled the winning performance.

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Pegasus: Stream – Integrated Above and Below Ground 3D Data Collection

leica_pegasus_stream_keyvisual_PIC_655x180Imagine being able to collect 3D data with a platform that integrates above and below ground 3D information into a unified system. Enter the Leica Geosystems Pegasus: Stream.

According to Leica Geosystems the Pegasus:Stream is the only vehicle towed reality capturing sensor solution providing an integrated hardware platform including ground penetrating radar, cameras, and a Lidar profiler for an extensive 3D map of underground utilities and a survey-grade surface features and asset management survey for engineering by leveraging our external trigger and sync outputs. Simply fly-in, collect, then fly-out. No dedicated or modified vehicles are required, batteries are included. Measure the unlimited.

This could be a game changer.

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Lidar-derived Coastal Risk Map for Australia

ss-ngis-inundation-scenarios-503x335This article in Spatial Source reports on an impressive research effort involving coastal risk and inundation in Australia, a country that has potentially massive issues to address with rises in sea level. The project includes the use of lidar to develop a powerful and I am sure scary interactive map that portrays the areas that would be inundated under different hypothetical scenarios.

I live within a hundred yards of the Atlantic Ocean which is a lot of fun most of the time, but it could become a real negative issue sooner than we all would like to think.

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