Bosch Says Lidar Sensor Makes Auto Automation Viable

Bosch Says Lidar Sensor Makes Auto Automation Viable

January 3, 2020

According to Bosch Board Member Harald Kroeger, Bosch’s long-range lidar sensor will be the first solution suitable for automatic driving, arguing that by filling in the sensor gap, Bosch is making automated driving a truly viable possibility.

According to industry experts, to make safe automated driving a reality, a third sensor principle is needed in addition to camera and radar.

To this end, Bosch is making long-range lidar sensors production-ready – claiming to be the first lidar (light detection and ranging) system that is suitable for automotive use. This laser-based distance measurement technology is indispensable for driving functions at SAE Levels 3 to 5.

According to Bosch Board Member Harald Kroeger, the new sensor will cover both long and close ranges – on highways and in the city. By exploiting economies of scale, Kroeger says Bosch aims to reduce the price for the sophisticated technology and render it suitable for the mass market.

“By filling the sensor gap, Bosch is making automated driving a viable possibility in the first place,” says Kroeger.

According to Bosch, only the parallel deployment of three sensor principles ensures that automated driving will offer maximum safety when it is rolled out.

Bosch claims its developers investigated all use cases of automated driving functions – from highway assist to fully automated driving in cities. For example, if a motorcycle approaches an automated vehicle at high speed at a junction, lidar is needed in addition to camera and radar to ensure the reliable sensing of the two-wheeler. In this instance, radar can struggle to detect the bike’s narrow silhouette and plastic fairings.

Moreover, a camera may also be dazzled by harsh light falling on it. As such, Bosch argues there is a need for radar, camera, and lidar, with the three technologies complementing each other perfectly and delivering reliable information in every driving situation.

Lidar systems in automated driving

The laser acts as a third eye: in lidar systems, the sensor emits laser pulses and captures the laser light that is scattered back. The system then calculates distances based on the measured time it takes for the light to bounce back.

Bosch claims Lidar offers very high resolution with a long range and a wide field of vision. As a result, the laser-based distance measurement tool can reliably detect even non-metallic objects at a great distance, such as rocks on the road. This means there is plenty of time to initiate driving maneuvers such as braking or swerving. At the same time, using lidar in vehicles exposes the lidar system’s components, such as the detector and the laser, to many stresses – above all, with regard to temperature resistance and reliability over the vehicle’s entire lifetime.

Kroeger claims Bosch can draw on its sensor expertise and systems know-how in the fields of radar and camera technology when developing the lidar, to ensure that all three sensor technologies dovetail with each other.

“We want to make automated driving safe, convenient, and fascinating. In this way, we will be making a decisive contribution to the mobility of the future. Bosch’s long-range lidar will not only fulfill all safety requirements for automated driving, it will also enable automakers to efficiently integrate the technology into a very wide range of vehicle types in the future,” says Kroeger.

Artificial intelligence is making assistance systems even safer

Bosch says it has been developing and manufacturing millions of ultrasound, radar, and camera sensors in-house for many years now. In 2019, Bosch sales of driver assistance systems rose by 12 percent to around 2 billion euros. These assistance systems are paving the way for automated driving.

Recently, Bosch engineers claim to have succeeded in taking the camera technology used in cars to a new level by enhancing it with artificial intelligence. The camera technology detects objects, categorizes them into classes such as vehicles, pedestrians, or bicycles, and measures their movement.

In congested urban traffic, the camera can also recognize and classify partially obscured or crossing vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists quickly and reliably. This allows the vehicle to trigger a warning or an emergency braking maneuver as required.  Bosch claims its latest generation of radar sensors is even better at capturing the vehicle’s surroundings – including in bad weather or poor light conditions. Their greater detection range, wide aperture, and high angular separability are the basis for this improved performance.

(Featured image courtesy of Bosch.)

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