Why Sensors Need “Superhuman” Abilities

August 15, 2021

The autonomous vehicle will need to drive much better than a human driver which will require “superhero” qualities 

“Spidey sense”, from the old comic book Spiderman, was an intuitive sense of what was happening in the world, a type of perception that the “superhero” received when danger was lurking. It was one of his “super hero” qualities that let him know what was going on even when he couldn’t see it for himself.

For autonomous vehicles to make it to the road, they will need to drive better than a human driver, which will require “superhero” qualities or “super senses”. People are essentially flawed, and most of us can accept when a human being makes a mistake or has a collision on the road due to a human error. But when billions of dollars are dedicated to creating sensors to eliminate accidents on the road, the tolerance for error will go down, way down. Similar to the concept of Asimov’s first law – “a robot may not injure a human being or, through in action, allow a human being to come to harm” – when you couple that with the amount of investment dedicated to the autonomous vehicle industry, the notion of accidents becomes entirely less tolerable.

Some vehicles today are being built entirely with a sense of “vision”, which may be counterintuitive since that wouldn’t work for humans, we use a combination of senses when we drive – so why try it with a vehicle?

What is needed to have a true level of safety are vehicles with “super sensors”. The expectation is that there should be no more accidents on the road once we have sophisticated vehicles with the most advanced technologies and have been trained for every possible situation. “Super sensors” is the idea of merging multiple sensors together like camera-based technology along with other sensors like 4D Imaging Radar. Unlike standard radar, 4D Imaging Radar provides unique capabilities that no other sensor can provide – visibility in all weather and environmental conditions, including in full darkness. In fact, 4D Imaging Radar brings more than just spidey sense – it can see right through the object in front of you on the road, it has long-distance viewing, and analyzes speed and turn rate to know what the vehicle will encounter on the road, even before it does. Kind of like a Superhero. Not too bad for a sensor.

Driving in Challenging Weather

4D Imaging Radar and the camera compliment each other quite well, and together they create a superhuman sensory experience for autonomous vehicles. Cameras are visually precise but can struggle to operate in low visibility situations – like the dark and challenging weather, which is 4D Imaging Radar’s strength. Coupling the camera with 4D Imaging Radar provides the vehicle with sensors that will provide it with the information it needs to “make decisions” on the road.

These decisions can be life saving decisions and making sure the vehicle is equipped with the right sensors to feed it the right information is crucial to the safety of the vehicle. In order to have a machine that drives better than a human, the vehicle needs “superhuman” senses that can see the world around it, better than we can.

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