Silicon Valley-based technology company Velodyne has set a new record by doubling the number of laser beams in its latest Lidar system.
Lidar is an integral part of self-driving technology. A laser-based surveying method, Lidar builds up a depth-based image of the world by shining out laser lights and then measuring how long it takes for the reflected pulse to be bounced back to the sensor.
According to Velodyne’s engineers, the new VLS-128 sensor system will bestow autonomous vehicles with high tech vision, while shrinking the overall size of the sensor by 70 percent.
“A 360-degree Lidar sensor such as the VLS-128 is optimal for keeping drivers and passengers safe in all situations,” Anand Gopalan, chief technology officer at Velodyne, told Digital Trends. “It provides the clearest view of both stationary and moving objects on or around the road, and in any direction around the vehicle. In addition, Velodyne’s Lidar sensors are capable of producing up to 3 million data points per second, with a range of up to 300 meters and accuracy of around 3 centimeters.”
The new VLS-128’s resolution is considerably better than its already highly competent predecessor, reports Digital Trends. Just by factoring in its better algorithms and faster scanning process, the device comes off as three to 10 times better than existing technology.
In terms of what this means for its use in the real world, Velodyne suggests that it will sideline other sensors, such as cameras and radars, that are used by current autonomous vehicles.
While those other sensors will almost certainly stay a part of the next generation of self-driving cars, there’s a good chance that they will be relegated simply to acting as backup devices, reports Digital Trends.
“We are ramping production up now, and we expect to start providing engineering samples to key customers by the end of the year,” Gopalan said. “Production will be fully ramped up in early 2018.”
Image and content: Velodyne via Digital Trends