Future Self-Driving Vehicles Might Be Able to See Objects Hidden Around the Corner

In the wake of the recent tragic event that claimed the life of a California pedestrian, self-driving vehicles manufacturers are urged to come up with more safety measures. While the idea of smart cars roaming freely on public roads might not appeal to everyone, Stanford announced the future vehicles would be able to see pedestrians even if they’re around the corner.

Next-Gen Self-Driving Vehicles to be Outfitted with LIDAR-based Systems

Last week, a Stanford University spokesperson declared that the institution managed to design and construct a revolutionary road detection system that will allow self-driving vehicles to ‘see’ and avoid pedestrian and obstacles even if they are not in the car’s field of view.

This new technology is based on laser pulse detection and, according to Matthew O’Toole, one of the Stanford scientists involved in this project, very similar to LIDAR technology.

O’Toole noted that this road mapping technology was made possible after the scientists realized that they could treat any object in real life as a mirror.

In layman’s terms, the system emits bright photon pulses in the car’s surrounding area. These pulses bounce off various objects, ‘captured’ by the system’s sensors and analyzed. O’Toole said that self-driving vehicles would be made ‘aware’ of its environment by calculating the time a photon pulse needs to return to the sensor.

More than that, this new imaging technology will allow self-driving vehicles to see obstacles that are not in their field of view – for example, a person waiting around the corner to cross the street.

Although the team has proved that the concept is sound, it’s still too early to outfit smart cars with this imaging technology, as the onboard computer needs a couple of minutes to interpret the data and make the appropriate course corrections.

However, O’Toole noted that the team could cut down on the response time to a couple of milliseconds, using better equipment, such as brighter lasers.

Image source: Wikipedia

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