Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Friday July 28 2017, @11:26AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the it-takes-more-than-two-points-to-define-an-object dept.

Technology Review looks at the next generation of affordable LIDAR units and finds the tech lacking in resolution and/or range relative to the needs of self driving cars. The $80,000 "coffee can" LIDAR that has been used for R&D has 64 beams and 120 meter range. The low cost units have as few as 4 beams at wider spacing. This leads the author to suggest that the first generation of cars with LIDAR may only use the self-driving features at lower speeds.

The French auto parts maker Valeo, for example, claims to have built what it says is the world's first laser scanner for cars that's ready for high-volume production, the SCALA. It features four lines of data with an angular resolution of 0.8°. Automotive News previously reported that Valeo will provide the lidar sensor used in the new Audi A8, though at the time of writing Audi declined to confirm this and Valeo didn't respond to a request for details. The new A8 is the first production car to feature LIDAR and can drive itself—but only in heavy traffic at speeds less than 37 miles per hour.

Several other companies (established and startups) are discussed and there are some LIDAR photos at different scan density for comparison. The low res images would be very hard to use for object recognition, with only a few points.

The article comments include a short discussion of laser strength and possible eye damage that it might be interesting to expand. One comment suggests that even though UV and IR are not visible, at high enough power they can still damage eyes.

We are looking toward a near-future where roads are bathed in laser light and, for example, with cars driving up hill, possibly scanning low flying aircraft?


Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Friday July 28 2017, @01:18PM (6 children)

    by kaszz (4211) on Friday July 28 2017, @01:18PM (#545743) Journal

    The article comments include a short discussion of laser strength and possible eye damage that it might be interesting to expand. One comment suggests that even though UV and IR are not visible, at high enough power they can still damage eyes.

    Laser with a wavelength in the range 400 - 1400 nm most certainly will damage the eye given sufficient power density. Outside of this range the danger is cataracts or burn injuries. And light sources are not always clean as to respect of bandwidth and harmonic oscillations.

    Thus IR and UV most certainly is of concern. So the question that remains is the amount of power and angle used?. Because laser scanners can have an interruption and then damage may occur.

    So whenever a self driving car comes along, look away to decrease the eye damage risk.

    • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday July 29 2017, @12:36AM (5 children)

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday July 29 2017, @12:36AM (#546062) Homepage

      I have said this before, because I have inside knowledge. Phased arrays of microwave and millimeter-wave transceivers will be used in the future for those purposes. In addition to having no troublesome moving parts, modern phased arrays degrade gracefully on an element-by-element basis and elements can be swapped out as easily as Arduino shields or Lego bricks.

      The only obstacle thus far is the waiting-game -- how long we must wait for those arrays of gallium nitride and its cheaper cousin, gallium arsenide T/R modules to become miniaturized and affordable enough for consumer-use.

      Source: I work for Boston Dynamics' Wireless Applications Division and have worked on joint projects with their Waymo division.

      • (Score: 2) by driverless on Saturday July 29 2017, @12:44AM

        by driverless (4770) on Saturday July 29 2017, @12:44AM (#546069)

        Could you strap a couple of sharks to your roof and mount the lasers on them? You could arrange to have them pointed down so they wouldn't dazzle low-flying aircraft.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 29 2017, @01:45AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 29 2017, @01:45AM (#546096)

        How well do phased arrays work when there are hundreds or thousands of them in close proximity? If there are several on every car, they add up quickly.

        My (limited) understanding is that military aircraft phased arrays operate at high power and long range. And extending to a guess-- it's not too hard to distinguish your signal from others when all the combatants are miles apart, standing off at air-air missile range.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday July 30 2017, @09:42PM

        by kaszz (4211) on Sunday July 30 2017, @09:42PM (#546840) Journal

        microwave and millimeter-wave transceivers

        Will they have the precision that laser LIDAR offers?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Friday July 28 2017, @01:20PM (2 children)

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 28 2017, @01:20PM (#545744)

    For non-USA readers, the FDA (weirdly) regulates lasers.

    Most of the lidar I know of are class-I eye safe. Just not enough power. They're expensive partially because of that requirement resulting in better sensor tech.

    There's fake dangerous and then there's real dangerous. The feds are not going to permit untrained owners and untrained operators and untrained civilians downrange of a class-IV lidar. I guarantee there will be BS claims about "them durn lasers made my cows milk dry up" or "the laser (not even pointed at the user) made me nearsighted and/or gave me hives" along the lines of wifi and cell phones BS from the type of people that fall for crystal power.

    As a point of comparison the FAA pretty tightly regulates airborne lasers see faa ac 20-183

    https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC_20-183.pdf [faa.gov]

    Admittedly range is more important for aircraft so powers would seem to be higher for a given technology and mass, and theres intense mass pressure on aircraft machinery, so there's a push for higher power aircraft lasers and smaller lighter sensors.

    Americans have intense marketing that they love obese cars, so using little class-I transmitters with giant 12 inch telescope imager sensors all over a vehicle like a porcupine would be seen as "American Cool" even if it makes a commuter car physically bigger and heavier than a mack truck. You'll probably see a self driving dualie pickup truck before you see a self driving Yaris commuter car for this mass and size reason.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28 2017, @07:43PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28 2017, @07:43PM (#545944)

      For non-USA readers, the FDA (weirdly) regulates lasers.

      And yet, they can't get nutrition facts on beer.
      http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/healthlawprof_blog/2011/01/why-dont-beer-wine-and-alcohol-have-nutrition-fact-labels.html [typepad.com]

      • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday July 29 2017, @12:41AM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday July 29 2017, @12:41AM (#546067) Homepage

        Calorie counts on booze are easily found online, and unless you're talking rum cake (fuck yes) or other actual food made with noticeable amounts of hard alcohol, having nutrition labels is pretty pointless.

        If you demand that information on the label of your booze, then you should give Michelob Ultra a try. It's the beer of choice for 14 year old girls with fake IDs.

(1)