Last month we participated in the first AutoSens Detroit event held in Hall M1. In short, AutoSens brings together the world's top engineers, researchers and other authority figures in the field of vehicle sensing technology and autonomous driving. Here, people engaged in this technology can integrate with the network, communication and ultimately solve the real challenge. The organizer believes that for our cars to connect successfully, people working in space must connect successfully.
The M1 Concourse field walk proved to be very informative and informative, from the various companies in attendance displaying their latest vehicle perception technology, to the self-driving vehicle demonstrations taking place on the facility's runway. It didn't take long to realize that the organizers of AutoSens had invited big players, many of them small companies disrupting the space with their new approaches to automated technology.
Here are three companies we've met to change the way we think about self-driving vehicles.
Imatest, based in Colorado, provides unbiased image quality testing for a number of industries including mobile electronics, security, medical imaging and automotive. The company provides detailed software, test charts and advice for a customer's imaging needs, whether it's a camera phone or a satellite. Some companies create their own in-house camera testing software, but often, to their dismay, find inconsistencies. Imatest assists customers here so that they don't waste valuable time developing their product range.
With driverless cars, the implication is huge as cameras will play a vital role in the future autonomous world. For autonomy to deliver on its promise of reduced crashes and fatalities, image quality is critical. Imatest takes this into consideration as today's automotive trends push us further towards autonomy.
“Companies that put a camera in their product, like a rear view camera in a car, try to find a way to optimize those. products," said Jeff Herman, CEO. “Our software and graphics can test the image quality of this particular camera.”
When it comes to automotive applications, special attention is paid to dynamic range and light quality. For example, if a car pulls out of a dark garage and heads into the bright sun, there will be a sudden change in lighting conditions. However, the camera must see perfectly despite everything. Maybe a child is playing in the driveway? For a camera to work well as a security device, it must decipher vital details quickly and in a variety of lighting conditions. Imatest's unique software and "eye-seeing" graphs indicate the image quality of a particular camera before it was installed in the vehicle.
“The camera takes an image of the test pattern, our software recognizes the image and can tell you how sharp that image is,” Herman explained. “It tells us how sharp it is, how the colors are, is there any distortion or noise, is it as sharp in the left corner as it is in the center, etc. We can test these image quality factors through our software. »
Imatest Master was specifically designed for the growing trend of camera usage and the pressure companies feel to produce. cameras at a fast pace, each with higher image quality and more features than before. With autonomous driving, the implications are once again huge. The automotive industry is rapidly changing as it is, but lately the development of autonomous technology has taken off like a rocket. Some consumers may worry that the speed at which technology is changing means that not all bugs are quite fixed. Imatest Master solves this problem at the image quality level for automated vehicle cameras, providing over 30 different test charts to measure and analyze color, tone, sharpness and other important factors.
“Road systems have been designed for years so that we drivers can examine the scene ahead,” Herman added. “Cameras need to see visible light faster than our eyes to be able to observe the scene in the same way.”
Michigan-based Dataspeed is unique, especially in the how and why of the company's existence. One of the things needed to get consumers to embrace automated driving is to humanize the technology – to take all the gadgets, sensors, cameras and modules and attach meaning to them that ordinary people can understand. Dataspeed has become a master in this field through an unfortunate tragedy. The company's chairman and CEO, Paul Fleck, has lost his dear cousin Mary in a tragic accident.
“Mary pulled out into oncoming traffic and suffered a side collision. Her view was obstructed due to the terrain and she did not see the oncoming vehicle,” Fleck explained. “If V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle Technology) had been available at the time, these two vehicles would have communicated and she would have been aware of the oncoming vehicle, even though she could not see it.”
With the relative newness of self-driving, there will be questions from the car-buying public. And not all buyers will understand (or even want) the deep engineering behind vehicle perception technology. However, what will resonate with them is the loss of a loved one. As the autonomous landscape grows, Dataspeed can understand and even meet consumers where they are.
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"I tell my team that their work will save someone's life one day, although we will never know that person's name," Fleck said. “Anyone working on autonomous vehicles is, in some way, moving forward in the timeline where cars will be safer to drive, and that will lead to fewer fatal accidents.”
Photo: Carl Anthony for Automoblog.net.
Dataspeed's ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) kit optimizes the development of autonomous vehicles. The ADAS kit takes control of the accelerator, brakes, steering and gear shifting, to facilitate the testing of sensors and other elements related to autonomous vehicle applications. Let's say I'm developing a particular sensor or algorithm, or maybe even a whole autonomous vehicle system. I installed the ADAS kit, including drive-by-wire hardware, power distribution system, and vehicle network interfaces, so that I can continue to develop my sensor, algorithm, or autonomous system. Using Dataspeed's kit, I am able to save time and perform much more efficient testing, as the aforementioned vehicle systems are already covered.
“We recognized early on that the autonomous vehicle community needed a safe, reliable and economical vehicle. effective development vehicle,” Fleck said. "We then developed a complete turnkey system that works in a Lincoln MKZ or Ford Fusion/Mondeo that provides computer control of the vehicle's throttle, brake, steering and shift systems, and is the basis for a fully autonomous development vehicle.”
Currently, there are more than 100 vehicles equipped with Dataspeed's ADAS kit, and the company is working on the development of core algorithms and new hardware products.
“Dataspeed engineers are constantly thinking about ways to help,” Fleck said. “No matter what we develop and produce, it will be as safe, reliable and cost-effective as our ADAS kit.”
Photo: Carl Anthony for Automoblog.net.
Leuven, Belgium is a region synonymous with innovation and XenomatiX is no exception, a high-tech company focused on automotive vision solutions. After studying OEM requirements, Xenomatix developed an advanced form of LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging. LiDAR measures the distance to a particular point by illuminating it with pulsed laser light; the reflected pulses are then measured to determine how far away said point is. From there, 3D representations of the point and the surrounding area can be made. Bats actually use a similar process with sound waves to navigate.
“Our LiDAR solution can calculate the 3D geometry of the car's surroundings up to a distance of 200 meters,” said Kris De Meester, Vice President Business. Development. "One of the reasons that almost everyone is convinced of LiDAR as it relates to autonomous vehicles is the range and accuracy of the measurements."
XenomatiX's laser-based solid-state vision system creates a high-resolution point cloud, giving a vehicle an accurate reading of the road and detecting all possible objects. The data that comes back to the vehicle is critical for occupant safety, especially if there are unexpected surprises ahead.
“When you leave the driving to the car, you have to know the objects around it and how far away they are,” explained De Meester. “We have a very good solution for solid-state LiDAR that is small but robust in design and low cost for mass production.”
LiDAR has advantages in how it can see through fog or distinguish irregularities in the road that might be missed by other sensors or cameras. LiDAR is known for its accuracy regardless of weather conditions or time of day, be it morning or night. However, XenomatiX takes it a step further by incorporating a unique multi-beam projector and pulsed lighting scheme. The combination allows thousands of laser spots to be projected simultaneously in a dense pattern, dramatically reducing “false alarms” by generating millions of measurements per second. In other words, it is extremely precise and such precision means greater safety for the occupants of automated vehicles.
“In my opinion, LiDAR will be needed for autonomous vehicles,” added De Meester.
The company also implements short- and long-range optical sensors for many of today's driver assistance and road obstacle detection systems. All XenomatiX offerings are carefully planned and based on extensive research.
“We have spoken with many OEMs because we need to know all the requirements,” explained De Meester. “A lot of engineering designs today are made around OEM requirements.”
Our list here is by no means exhaustive - there are many brilliant people and companies working on autonomous vehicle technology. However, as the autonomous world becomes clearer, we believe that Imatest, Dataspeed and XenomatiX, with their range of experiences and innovations, will serve us well as future autonomous drivers (or riders). Given our recent experience with AutoSens, we recommend learning more about them if you are interested in driverless vehicles and the evolution of technology. In September AutoSens returns to Brussels, Belgium with a full line-up of expert speakers, in-depth workshops and vehicle demonstrations.
“AutoSens brings together different layers of industry disciplines, from financial engineers to purely technical engineers, to higher-level management,” De Meester said. "All discuss and identify issues and challenges with automated vehicles."
Carl Anthony is the editor of Automoblog and lives in Detroit, Michigan.