Volkswagen wants to put fully self-driving cars in fully human-filled cities by 2021, and that means it has limited time to crack the hardest thing about this technology: making a robot that can understand its surroundings in precise detail.
Get perception right—know what’s a kid and what’s a fire hydrant—and the other pieces of the robo-driving puzzle get a whole lot easier. And today, the division of VW tasked with delivering on that 2021 deadline just revealed a key part of its approach.
Audi AID (that’s Autonomous Intelligent Driving) today announced that it is partnering with lidar maker Luminar. AID considered offerings from the dozens of lidar companies, but it was ultimately won over by how far the Luminar lidar sees—about 250 meters—and how good its resolution is.
“The range is pretty amazing on the Luminar sensor,” says Alexandre Haag, AID’s CTO. That’s key for having plenty of time to reach to obstacles up ahead. Resolution is what lets the computer identify that obstacle as another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist.
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