Waymo's new self-driving tech spots pedestrians half a kilometer away
With an eye toward the future of self-driving cars with next-level safety and reliability, Waymo has introduced its fifth-generation system for autonomous vehicles. Called Waymo Driver, the system promises a more comprehensive understanding of the vehicle’s surroundings and a number of impressive new capabilities, including an ability to spot debris and stop signs hundreds of meters up the road.
According to company, the development of Waymo Driver was guided by data gathered over 20 million miles of self-driving by its cars, along with 10 billion miles of simulations. The combination of hardware and software is designed to give its vehicles an unprecedented ability to navigate complex driving environments, all based on a decade of testing in the real world.
Among the hardware upgrades are new lidar sensors that work together to offer a rooftop 360-degree, bird’s eye view of the surroundings. This can apparently pick up a car door opening a city block away, enable trucks to detect debris hundreds of meters up the highway, along with a much-improved ability to detect objects close by and squeeze through tight spaces in busy areas.
A new suite of cameras is said to capture far more detail, with an ability to spot pedestrians and stop signs more than 500 m away (1,600 ft). It also promises greater reduction in blind spots created by larger cars, with the system able to “peek” around trucks in front to see if it is safe to overtake thanks to a new so-called peripheral vision system.
An updated radar system, meanwhile, is claimed to have an improved ability to cut through rain, fog and snow to detect the velocity of moving objects, even if it is a motorcyclist hundreds of meters away. Waymo says the system does so with unparalleled resolution and range that allows it to better pick up objects that are moving fast, very slowly or have stopped altogether.
The company has already built its first Waymo Driver systems into its electric Jaguar I-PACEs, and say they have been comprehensively tested on a system-wide level to ensure they can handle all kinds of road and traffic conditions.