AEye is a company that specializes in advancing ‘safe and reliable vehicle autonomy’, according to their website. They recently announced their latest innovation that has them closer to that stated goal, and it is a robotic perception system for autonomous vehicles which allows those vehicles to perceive their surroundings in a manner resembling humans’ own sensory experience.
As opposed to the way a mounted dash cam would take in the view out of the windshield, humans incorporate their peripheral vision while maintaining greater focus on what lies directly ahead, or in whichever direction they shift their frontal vision. The AE100, the name given to AEye’s perception system, incorporates their proprietary iDar technology, which gathers information more rapidly and dynamically in order to improve the vehicle’s path planning.
iDar is an acronym for Intelligent Detection and Ranging, with the technology fusing three components which allow an autonomous vehicle to react more intelligently to the many unforeseen and unpredictable variables that come with road navigation. The system will be available this summer, with AEye also offering partnerships to companies who would like to incorporate the AE100 into their fleet of self-driving vehicles.
AEye has stated that the AE100 is three times faster in its data processing than its competition, while detecting and solving ‘temporal anomalies’ more efficiently when scanning surroundings. This translates to ‘25 feet of faster response distance at average highway speeds – more than two car lengths.’ The system’s ‘definable scanning’ provides 3D resolution that is ten times greater than comparable systems.
Luis Dussan, founder and CEO of AEye, has previously been employed in the electronics and optics labs for Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. He is working on a PhD in computational physics, but temporarily put that pursuit on hold to launch AEye. The LiDAR laser systems that most autonomous vehicles use to scan their environment using lasers are expensive. Further, the lasers are deployed at predetermined angles, meaning that they often fail to adapt to changing terrains, often capturing data unnecessary to their purpose, such as the sky as a car hits the crest of a hill. With the AE100, Dussan and AEye aimed to create a more adaptable, human-like version of LiDAR systems that qualified as an upgrade over its competition.
“The AE100 is a game-changer for the autonomous vehicle and ADAS markets, as it makes iDAR technology commercially available for the first time,” said Dussan. “iDAR-based robotic perception allows sensors to mimic the visual cortex – bringing real-time intelligence to data collection. As a result, the system not only captures everything in a scene – it actually brings higher resolution to key objects and exceeds industry required speeds and distances.”