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Standard AV Lidar Testing

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Today, autonomous vehicles (AVs) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADASs) are rapidly growing research directions aimed at increasing vehicle and road safety. Both technologies minimize human error by enabling cars to “perceive” their surroundings and act accordingly. This is achieved using light detection and ranging (lidar) technology, one of the most important and versatile components in AVs. Lidars provide a three-dimensional map of all objects around the vehicle regardless of external lighting conditions. This map, updated hundreds of times per second, can be used to estimate the position of the vehicle relative to its surroundings in real time. This article will report on an effort to develop standard AV lidar testing by a group within SPIE.

from an article by SPIE in Mirage.

Despite their crucial role in both AVs and ADAS, however, lidars currently lack a standardized measure for describing their performance. In other words, there is no widely accepted protocol for comparing one lidar with another. Although one could arguably compare lidars based solely on their manufacturers’ specifications, such comparisons are not very useful. This is because the performance metrics used by the manufacturers vary and are typically confidential. Moreover, unlike lidars used for science, surveyance, or defense applications, automotive-grade lidars are optimized for manufacturability, cost, and size. This is likely to lead to marked variations in performance that would be impossible to quantify without standardized tests.

To tackle this problem, Dr. Paul McManamon of Exciting Technology formed a national group in conjunction with SPIE to address the issue with a three-year effort to develop tests and performance standards for lidars used in AVs and ADAS. The tests during the first year were led by Dr. Jeremy P. Bos, an associate professor at Michigan Technological University (MTU), with assistance from his PhD student, Zach Jeffries. Other authors included Charles Kershner from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, who set up a ground truth Reigl lidar for the test, and Akhil Kurup, also of MTU. In a paper published recently in Optical Engineering, the team reports the findings of the first-year tests and a briefing outline of the larger three-year plan.

For the complete article on standard AV Lidar testing CLICK HERE.

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