Google and automakers are preparing the ground for the next arrival of autonomous vehicles on our roads. Mercedes has thus challenge Google on its land by sending “Bertha”, its prototype autonomous car in California. The elements are gradually up, but remains a difficult problem to solve. That of cost. Not only these vehicles require more computing power and embedded software that Twingo, but the cost is prohibitive sensors. A key issue that OEMs will have to solve the autonomous car can surpass the prototypes.
LIDAR is a thorny problem of cost
$ 75,000 is the official LIDAR (acronym for LIght Detection And Ranging) marketed by Velodyne price. The LIDAR is the laser sensor that rotates on top of the self as Google. It was he who, by turning at 10 revolutions per second, provides the 3D 360 ° view around the car and allows allows it to identify its position relative to the road, compared to other vehicles and pedestrians, cyclists etc.. This is a key component of the autonomous car, as highlighted Alberto Broggi, Paolo and Paolo Zani Grisleri, VisLab researchers from the University of Parma, the challenges of the DARPA 2005 and 2007 showed that it was the best technical solution for developing an autonomous car. But apart Sergey Brin and Larry Page who wants to buy an “automatic driving” option to $ 75,000 for the next Twingo? OEMs obviously working on the issue.
Already in 2010, Audi launched its autonomous TTS to attack Pike’s Peak, with success.
Ibeo Automotive has developed more affordable LIDAR for Audi and Continental and Valeo also working on the issue. These are fixed and should be mounted in the shell of the vehicle. The viewing angle is about 85 ° to 110 °, which means it takes 4 to cover the edge of the car. Valeo have also developed a fixed LIDAR, including used Kia. The cost would be about $ 20,000 piece. At CES 2013 Audi had demonstrated the effectiveness of the solution by dropping in the streets of Las Vegas autonomous A7 thus equipped.
Alternatives to laser appeared
If there is 6 years, the LIDAR was essential to roll an autonomous vehicle in the streets, it is no longer the case today. On the one hand, researchers have shown that VisLab analysis of images from video cameras can complete this task. The researchers rolled a vehicle, Terramax, with 10 video cameras on 13,000 km without incident. Stereoscopic vision provided by these cameras and algorithms running on FPGA components makes this approach viable today at a fraction of the price of a LIDAR if we believe researchers. This solution of the stereo-vision has largely democratized, especially with the impressive commercial success of the Microsoft Kinect.
Radar, popular but too limited
Another possible approach, it is the radar. These are components now installed on a large number of vehicles and they are widely used by automated systems parking. As the researchers highlighted the range and accuracy of these automotive radars is insufficient to suggest the use to drive the car. Yet this is the choice that makes Mercedes for its “Bertha.” It combines a battery of radars with stereoscopic cameras for a more distant vision. If the German manufacturer is less about Google, it’s probably closer to a solution than industrially California.
Translation : Google Translate
“Mercedes Self-Driving Car Bertha Comes to California”, IEEESpectrum, July 16 2014
« Three Price Ranges for Robocars: Budget, Deluxe, and Out of Sight », IEEESpectrum, July 22 2014
“Sensors technologies for intelligent vehicles perception systems: a comparison between vision and 3D-LIDAR”, Etude de Alberto Broggi, Paolo Grisleri et Paolo Zani du VisLab – Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Informazione
Universita degli Studi di Parma, Italy, October 6 2013
“S 500 Intelligent Drive Drives Autonomously In The Tracks Of Bertha Benz”, HybridCars, September 11 2013
“CES 2013: Audi Demonstrates Its Self-Driving Car”, Popular Science, Septembre 1 2013
“LIDAR, lasers, and logic: Anatomy of an autonomous vehicle”, DigitalTrends, February 6 2013
“Audi Shrinks the Autonomous Car”, MIT Technology Review, January 8 2013
“Audi’s autonomous Audi TT conquers Pikes Peak – how long before it betters a human driver?”, GizMag, November 19 2010