New high resolution LiDAR becomes more affordable
Velodyne LiDAR is a Silicon Valley-based technology company that is working on a series of self-driving car programs based on LiDAR (Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging) technology. Velodyne LiDAR additionally focuses on vehicle safety systems, three-dimensional mobile mapping and security.
With the standard Velodyne sensors, these have a range 120 meters, resulting in an intricate image of the road ahead being created for a traveling vehicle.
The new improvement announced this month is with solid-state LiDAR sensors, which are more compact than their traditional products. The company anticipates that these can be manufactured at a lower cost. Moreover, by possessing no moving parts the risk of malfunction is reduced.
The new sensor is called the VLS-128 and it makes use of a fixed set of lasers and receivers which feed into sensors located at the front and rear of a vehicle. Lidar systems use lasers to send out pulses of light just outside the visible spectrum and time how long it takes each pulse to return.
This all combines to delivers so-called “high-resolution LiDAR”. This technology is seen as is important for the successful and safe navigation of autonomous cars.
The outcome is the generation of real-time three-dimensional images from all around the vehicle, including far into the distance. The detectors produce billions of data points which in-built computers process and interpret.
An important point in developing these systems is price. Many LiDAR sensors cost around the same price as a small compact car alone. This is pushing a drive for more affordable technology. The Velodyne concept of compact solid-state LiDAR sensors is a step towards producing more affordable sensor technology.
In relation to its dimensions, the new VLS-128 is 70 percent smaller compared to the current Velodyne sensors, the HDL-64 model. The current model works at 2.2 million laser points per second.
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