New lidar sensors can detect smallest amount of light possible
Can see up to 400m down road, 360 view from singlesensor
Argo AI, with major investments from Ford and Volkswagen, has just announced a new Lidar sensor that it says “has overcome the limitations preventing most competitors from commercializing autonomous delivery and ride-hail services.” The sensor can see farther down the road, day and night, in 360-degrees, and could be the next step in putting self-driving cars into use.
The breakthrough is called the Argo Self-Driving System, and it can see 360-degrees, in every direction around the vehicle, thanks to a new innovation Argo calls Geiger-mode sensing. Lidar sensors bounce light waves off of objects in order to “see” the world around them, and the Geiger-mode lidar sensor is capable of detecting one single photon. The smallest particle of light.
That ability, along with higher-wavelength light operation can see “the darkest of black-painted vehicles.” Vehicles that reflect less than 1 percent of light. Even at distances of 400m – believed to be the longest in the industry – and in pitch-black night.
Argo says the new system can also see down side roads, allowing left turns on high-speed roads, and can handle transitions from dark to bright light, like a tunnel. More importantly for commercialisation, the system uses just a single lidar sensor.
This doesn’t mean self-driving cars are around the corner, but the first Argo Lidar sensors are being tested on-road now in the US. The company is looking for a manufacturer who can handle mass production, and has volume production plans with both Ford and the Volkswagen Group.