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Camera System is Better Than Lidar for Depth Perception

image of Camera System Is Better Than Lidar
Camera System Is Better Than Lidar

So far, almost every autonomous vehicle we’ve encountered uses lidar to determine how far away things are, just as the winners of the DARPA Grand Challenges did back in the early 2000s. But not every AV will use lidar in the future; there are other sensors reaching maturity, some of which may even do a better job. One camera system that recently caught my eye is developed from smartphone camera tech by a company called Light.

From an article in ARS Techhnica by Jonathan M. Gitlin.

Light pivoted from its original position as a provider of cameras for smartphones to become a company that uses imaging technology for automotive applications like advanced driver assistance systems (aka ADAS) and AVs.

Specifically, Light developed an optical camera system, called Clarity, that can also calculate the distance to every pixel it sees. Knowing the exact distance to objects means there is no need for a separate lidar sensor, and it also means more accurate data for machine-learning algorithms (a billboard of a face wouldn’t be recognized as an actual human by Clarity, for example).

The cameras run at 30 Hz, and “for each frame, we’re computationally putting those camera images together and determining the depth of all the objects in the scene, and we usually have about a million points or so per frame,” explained Light co-founder and CEO Dave Grannan.

That system provides a significant advantage over even the most expensive lidar sensors, which only return less than a tenth as many points in a frame. There’s a computational overhead required to calculate the depth of each pixel, but the depth perception is perfectly matched with the camera image, something that’s not possible when different sensors are fused.

For the complete article CLICK HERE.

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