While the world of autonomy is focused on cars and trucks, Near Earth Autonomy (great company name) is working on a plan to automate personal aircraft. Now if you would dismiss this out of hand you might want to know that Airbus is working with Near Earth to provide the vertical take-off and landing, VTOL aircraft to support this “Jetsons-like” vision of personal transportation.
So where does lidar come in? It turns out that the take-off and flying states are relatively straight forward to automate. It’s the landing that is tricky. Enter lidar with its ability to survey the landing area and determine if it would be safe.
Near Earth Autonomy is lead by a team of Carnegie Mellon alums who have the robotics base well covered. It might be worth noting that the U.S. military has had their share of problems with VTOL aircraft, but it would seem that this vision is going to be part of the future of transportation.