Lidar-enabled ADAS is happening now, delivering next level capabilities to protect pedestrians, assist drivers and save lives.
The automotive industry is ever-changing. The COVID-19 pandemic may have a lasting impact on the way we live and work. The automotive industry could change dramatically, accelerating innovation to meet global needs on the roadways and in communities.
“Plunging sales could force factories to close and lead to takeovers and mergers, but also bolster sales of electric cars.Some automakers may emerge stronger…The pressure to go electric could become more intense,”writes Jack Ewing, New York Times, May 13, 2020. This in line with a recent statement from Volkswagen that the overall situation“is more likely to accelerate the transition towards e-mobility because of increased environmental and social awareness.”
If the pandemic does foster the rise ofelectric vehicles, this could be a catalyst for quicker adoption of next-generation advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
The digitization of the automotive industry is being advanced hand-in-hand with electrification. These moves will stimulate the demand for connectivity, shared mobility and enhanced levels of ADASfeatures and autonomy.
Mobility as a service is an example of the progression of automotive technology. Ownership, maintenance and management of fleets through centralized mobility or platform providers are becoming increasingly important. This trend has the potential to fundamentally influence or change industry business models.
Furthermore, connectivity of vehicles is advancing. Functions, such as dynamic navigation based on traffic, weather and road conditions or automatic guidance to free parking spaces, may become easy to implement. Buyers of modern electric cars, which are equipped with evolving technology, are coming to increasingly expect these features.
And now comes the crucial point: it is assumed that as autonomous vehicles become more market-ready, the proportion of specific electronics and software in vehicles would or must increase, e.g. advanced sensors or algorithms for environmental simulation.
However, this point also applies the other way around: the rise of electric cars has the potential to significantly pave the way for next generation ADAS functionality. For one simple reason: consumer demand. For customers of state-of-the-art electric cars, the communication and infotainment systems, combined with safety functionality,is an important factor. Ultimately, with such important decision-making criteria in the purchasing process,the OEMs who offer the most differentiating technologies have an advantage.
And, when it comes to enhanced ADAS, lidar could become the most significant catalyst to bring functionality to the next level.
Lidar: An Ideal Safety Choice for ADAS
Automakers can greatly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of driver-assist features by employing lidar as a key perception component.
A Frost & Sullivan report on driver assistance technology observed that “unlike radar, lidar provides much higher resolution, enabling accurate object detection. Unlike cameras, lidar provides accurate depth perception, with distance accuracy of a few centimeters, making it possible to precisely localize the position of the vehicle on the road and detect available free space for the vehicle to navigate.”
The report also commented that lidar technology can “offer a 360-degree horizontal field of view and up to 40-degree vertical field of view” – capabilities “essential for accurately locating the vehicle within its environment and planning its driving path.” It pointed out how lidar “can operate in poor lighting conditions, unlike cameras, since lidars are their own light source.” By employing lidar in night-time scenarios, there is the potential to improve the detection and safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists during this time.
Lidar sensors have the potential to enable automakers to create superior ADAS, addressing edge-cases for current approaches, including winding roads, potholes, on/off ramps and roadways with unclear lane markings. This functionality can be realized in a compact form factor; for example, directional lidar sensors can be situated behind the vehicle’s windshield for streamlined integration, allowing vehicles to maintain their aerodynamic design.
Need for Validation and Future Standardization
As lidar sensors become more widespread in vehicle deployment, there has been a call within the industry to identify requirements and methods for lidar sensor testing and validation.
Misleading reports and information have been published about the precision, accuracy and range of lidar sensors. To be of value to automakers, all lidar sensors should be assessed by the same gauge.
Velodyne Lidar, an industry pioneer that has developed an ever-evolving portfolio of lidar solutions, is a thought-leader in safety. The company is actively advocating for autonomous solutions. Velodyne envisions the automotive community pulling together to identify lidar requirements and standardize how to address them. The goal is to have lidar products undergo testing and validation based on the standards early in their product lifecycle with the results available to automakers and Tier 1 suppliers.
Lidar Takes ADAS to the Next Level
As electromobility advances, the potential of next-level ADAS can too. Automakers will continue to make customer safety a priority as they roll out autonomy and ADAS. Employing lidar, along with a few inexpensive cameras, is a revolutionary approach to safety. It enables vehicles to detect and avoid objects in a range of environmental conditions and roadway settings.
Lidar-powered ADAS is happening now, delivering next level capabilities to protect road users, assist drivers and save lives.
Contributed by Sally Frykman, VP of communications, Velodyne Lidar, and Dieter Gabriel, marketing manager EMEA, Velodyne Europe