LiDAR technology is at the heart of self driving cars says BRYAN SALESKY, CEO, Argo AI. As without it vehicles won’t be able to find where they are on the road and detect other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
We can’t talk about a future of self-driving cars without mentioning LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology – and we won’t be able to build that future without it. These sensors are crucial to creating a three-dimensional view of the world that helps autonomous vehicles find where they are on the road and detect other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
To accelerate our mission to realize the self-driving future, Argo has acquired Princeton Lightwave, a company with extensive experience in the development and commercialization of LiDAR sensors. The technology that underpins their lineup of LiDAR sensors – which already serve the commercial mapping and defense industries – will help us extend the range and resolution needed to achieve self-driving capability in challenging urban environments. Princeton Lightwave’s technology also complements and expands the capability of LiDAR sensors already available to the automotive industry today.
With the addition of the Princeton Lightwave team, Argo is uniquely positioned to innovate in both sensor hardware and the interface between sensor and software – enabling us to achieve performance improvements that would not otherwise be possible. Princeton Lightwave’s technology will help us unlock new capabilities that will aid our virtual driver system in handling object detection in challenging scenarios, such as poor weather conditions, and safely operating at high speeds in dynamic environments.
As we’ve talked about before, even considering how far we’ve come in bringing about a world of self-driving cars, there’s still much we need to accomplish. We are constantly exploring how to increase the range, resolution and field of view of LiDAR, but we’re also looking to lower costs and manufacture these sensors at scale. We have to continue making improvements through dedicated research and development that’s aligned with our overall hardware and software strategy.
Our expanded team remains focused on accelerating the development of a virtual driver system that’s mandated for SAE levels four and five autonomous driving – meaning there’s no driver behind the wheel. By collaborating with our in-house hardware and software developers, as well as our supply base, we will work to create LiDAR sensors that not only meet the demanding performance required for high volume production, but also are affordable.
Argo’s expansion serves to expedite our mission to commercialize and deploy self-driving cars at scale. To our talented new team members from Princeton Lightwave: Welcome aboard! We’re thrilled to embrace your expertise as we all work together to build an exciting future of autonomous vehicles.
Fleet management in 360
An on-board dual camera system from global fleet management vehicle recovery and insurance telematics provider, Cartrack, reduces the costs of managing vehicle fleets, while creating new ways to motivate drivers and improve their on-the-road performance.
Historically, commercial drivers within fleets have been far removed from active management and oversight, with limited tools available in helping fleet owners understand how their drivers actually behave on the road. This lack of visual tracking ability has seen fleet managers struggle to achieve meaningful driver skills development, while also leaving companies vulnerable to poor operational performance and financial losses resulting from accidents.
Cartrack’s Drive Vision system is dramatically changing this status quo.
Drive Vision is an on-board dual camera system that records video footage with a 120-degree exterior view of the road ahead, and a 160-degree view inside the vehicle cab. Not only can fleet managers actively monitor all the footage that they wish, the system also records specific events such as speeding, harsh braking or an unforeseen action from a third-party.
Drive Vision’s video is continuously captured and then made available to users in two ways. The footage is either buffered in the unit’s memory card for up to five days, and selected time slots can be downloaded by the user via a web interface. Alternatively, footage is also automatically downloaded to the system when specific events occur, such as speeding or a collision. The captured footage is stored at a web address and is immediately accessible to the client at any time. In addition, the data centre’s driver exception reporting mechanism can review the footage against a client’s pre-determined driver behaviour stipulations, creating a balanced and flexible driver performance assessment tool.
Cartrack CEO, Andre Ittmann, notes why Drive Vision is so useful for companies.
“There are two key strategic benefits to the technology. Firstly, the company has a clear visual record of events in the case of an accident or legal dispute. Achieving this kind of detailed view hasn’t been possible before, and it can dramatically reduce the costs around incidents and accidents, on an ongoing basis. Secondly, Drive Vision is a highly functional, event-based coaching system. It therefore allows fleet managers to develop a culture that rewards excellent or improved performance, while also giving them the power to actively close skills gaps. “
Ittmann also notes that fleet video footage allows the company to monitor and manage aspects of its service and market performance, including the driver’s ability to access a work site, thereby ensuring timeous arrivals at designated locations and the ability to oversee passenger count and conduct.
Ittmann concludes that Drive Vision offers untold long-term advantages for companies.
“Beyond simply gaining a more efficient means to discipline errant drivers, Drive Vision also empowers fleet managers to proactively implement measures that will result in long-term benefits for their company. Ultimately, the company can also reduce costs related to driver mismanagement while simultaneously improving a driver’s skills and their performance on the road.”
Porsche names e-car
Series production of the first purely electric Porsche is set to begin next year.
In preparation, the vehicle has now been given its official name: The “Mission E” concept study, the name currently used to describe Porsche’s complete electric offering, will be known as the Taycan. The name can be roughly translated as “lively young horse”, referencing the imagery at the heart of the Porsche crest, which has featured a leaping steed since 1952.
“Our new electric sports car is strong and dependable; it’s a vehicle that can consistently cover long distances and that epitomises freedom”, says Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG. The oriental name also signifies the launch of the first electric sports car with the soul of a Porsche. Porsche announced the name for its first purely electric series as part of the “70 years of sports cars” ceremony.
Two permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM) with a system output of over 600 hp (440 kW) accelerate the electric sports car to 100 km/h in well under 3.5 seconds and to 200 km/h in under twelve seconds. This performance is in addition to a continuous power level that is unprecedented among electric vehicles: Multiple jump starts are possible in succession without loss of performance, and the vehicle’s maximum range is over 500 km in accordance with the NEDC.
Names with meaning
At Porsche, the vehicle names generally have a concrete connection with the corresponding model and its characteristics: The name Boxster describes the combination of the boxer engine and roadster design; Cayenne denotes fieriness, the Cayman is incisive and agile, and the Panamera offers more than a standard Gran Turismo, which is what allowed it to win the Carrera Panamericana long-distance race. The name Macan is derived from the Indonesian word for tiger, with connotations of suppleness, power, fascination and dynamics.
Future investment doubled
Porsche plans to invest more than six billion euro in electromobility by 2022, doubling the expenditure that the company had originally planned. Of the additional three billion euro, some 500 million euro will be used for the development of Taycan variants and derivatives, around one billion euro for electrification and hybridisation of the existing product range, several hundred million for the expansion of production sites, plus around 700 million euro for new technologies, charging infrastructure and smart mobility.
Extensive modifications at tHQ
At the Porsche headquarters in Zuffenhausen, a new paint shop, dedicated assembly area for the Taycan and a conveyor bridge for transporting the painted bodies and drive units to the final assembly area are currently being constructed. The existing engine plant is being expanded to manufacture electric drives and the body shop will also be developed. Investment is also planned for the Weissach Development Centre. Production of the Taycan is creating around 1,200 new jobs in Zuffenhausen alone.