Highly automated and even autonomous vehicles are soon to be a reality for the everyday consumer, but it isn’t simple, and manufacturers are facing a decision between safety and speed to market. One of the challenges the sector is facing can be reduced down to a shared responsibility between the vehicle and the driver, a stage which is known as Level 3 autonomy.
For automotive technology to safely operate at Level 3, it needs to successfully decipher the complexity of traffic situations so the driver can be alerted and regain control of the vehicle when necessary. This step exists where assisted driving and autonomous vehicles are not yet equipped to manage complex traffic systems, without the help of the driver.
Due to the complexities of this technology, new players in the market like the tech giants have chosen to skip Level 3 autonomy completely. These decisions have been made not only for safety, but also as the stage raises a number of questions. For instance, insurance—who will be responsible? The driver or the vehicle manufacturer? Shared responsibility makes a clear contribution of responsibility difficult.
It is the incredible advancements in LiDAR that has provided, and continues to provide, vehicle manufacturers with the means to make autonomous driving a reality
However, most companies in the autonomous space are looking to technology that enables complete autonomy. An important element of this technology is LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which acts as a remote sensing measurement tool, emitting laser pulses over a broad field of view, with high frequency and precision. These sensors ultimately allow for objects in a particular space to be reliably detected and localised. It is the incredible advancements in LiDAR that has provided, and continues to provide, vehicle manufacturers with the means to make autonomous driving a reality. This being said, as the autonomous industry relies on the power of LiDAR, it is imperative that the technology can preserve the safety of its users, and the integrity of its inventors. Considering LiDAR is implemented across many sectors to improve the safety of industrial workers, road users and the general public, perfecting it is a priority for all.
In some cases, like autonomous driving, LiDAR does not work on its own, and is being combined with many different sensors to provide strong sensory perception, using reliable environment recognition. Certain LiDAR sensors can be expensive and large in size—a limitation that many developers are working hard to overcome. Not only are large sensors impractical for safety because they unnecessarily increase surface area, they also present aesthetic problems, especially in an industry where visual design is so important. The good news is that there are sensors on the market that are ultra-compact and robust, which means they are insensitive to vibrations and shocks. This makes them very well suited for the nearly invisible integration in cars.
As the autonomous industry relies on the power of LiDAR, it is imperative that the technology can preserve the safety of its users, and the integrity of its inventors
The answer to both safety and aesthetic concerns is seamless integration. LiDAR specialist Blickfield has teamed up with Genesis Design on this area and come up with a solution by positioning a number of small sensors in various mounting areas, such as the headlamps, the rear combination lights and side mirrors. The arrangement provides a 360-degree view without hindering the aesthetic quality of the vehicle. This harmonious fusion can be customised to fit a car manufacturer’s style, thus disguising the sensors.
LiDAR experts are working towards a safe and efficient autonomous future—doing so from both sides of Level 3 autonomy. Throughout every stage of the process, from ADAS to Level five autonomy, safety must always be at the forefront of every advancement.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Florian Petit is Chief Experience Officer at Blickfeld
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