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3D Sensing NODAR vs. Lidar

3D sensing NODAR at work

As new technology is developed to advance autonomous driving features in modern vehicles, start-up companies, like 3D sensing NODAR, are being established to help accelerate mass-market autonomy.

From an article in Auto Body News by Stacey Phillips Ronak.

In April 2023, NODAR received the prestigious Grand Prix ACF AutoTech award in Paris, France. The computer vision company, based in Somerville, MA, is building next-generation 3D perception technology for autonomous vehicles (AVs).

To learn more about how this technology is expected to be used in ADAS and AVs, Autobody News talked to NODAR co-founder and COO Brad Rosen. The entrepreneur has a background in software engineering and an MBA from MIT. Over his career, he has been part of seven venture-backed startups where he held roles ranging from software engineer to CEO.


Dr. Leaf Jiang founded NODAR in 2018 after receiving his B.S., M.S. and PhD at MIT, where he studied and implemented optoelectronic systems. As a recognized expert in light detection and ranging technology (lidar) systems, he spent 12 years at MIT Lincoln Laboratory building lidar systems for the U.S. military. I joined the company in 2019 to help Leaf develop the business plan around the camera-based 3D sensing technology he had been working on, as well as raise money.


Lidar is a useful and precise tool, but is not perfect for all applications requiring 3D information. Lidar is very expensive due to the electronic components required to measure photons, and lidar has low resolution as compared with cameras. Another shortcoming is that most lidars to date have spinning mechanisms, which break after about 7,000 hours.

Knowing these points and that most intelligent machines regardless of market — whether vehicles or robots or monitoring equipment — will require reliable 3D information, Leaf set out to build a less expensive, higher performing, and more robust 3D ranging solution than lidar. Rather than lasers, Leaf used cameras and a technique that dates to the late 1800s called stereo vision, also referred to as binocular vision, which can produce extremely accurate distance measurements.


Autonomous vehicles require real-time and reliable long-range 3D information to navigate their environments safely and measure distances. NODAR’s patent-pending Hammerhead™ 3D sensing technology was created to deliver new levels of safety to driver-assisted and full AVs.

The platform is based on untethered (independently mounted), off-the-shelf automotive-grade cameras and NODAR software. It is for vehicles of any size — including automobiles, aircraft, ships, last-mile delivery robots and trains — and can maintain performance in harsh environments, such as high-vibration, off-road or inclement weather, as well as low light conditions. NODAR’s long-range and high resolution allow for quick detection of small objects at long range, such as a black tire on the road at 200 meters. Having reliable 3D depth is critical for safe operation for any autonomous vehicle or safety monitoring application.

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