Aside from 5G networking, autonomous vehicle technology retained primacy at the forefront of CES 2020. Mobileye, an Intel-owned company responsible for producing the top chipsets for vision-based autonomous vehicles, showcased its advances at the show this week.
The company’s focus on vision-based autonomous driving echoed Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s remarks about the pervasive and somewhat rival technology, LIDAR.
“Anyone relying on LIDAR is doomed. Doomed. Expensive sensors that are unnecessary. It’s like having a whole bunch of expensive appendices… you’ll see,” said the billionaire mind behind Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal.
The laser-based LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, has been implemented on swathes of self-driving cars by a majority of companies.
However, with the precise, specialised design behind LIDAR, along with the extensive around the other components of the vehicle, this technology is expensive.
Given the cost constraints of LIDAR, Cameras come first for Mobileye.
During its presentation at the massive annual trade show in Las Vegas, Mobileye showcased one of its autonomous vehicle tests on the winding, chaotic streets of Jerusalem.
Utilising a suite of 12 cameras and nothing else, Mobileye explained that the vehicle instead processes the feed of visual information with multiple algorithms to build several maps for added redundancy.
These include object detection of cars, wheels, doors, baby strollers, wheelchairs, street lamps; contextual clues like road signs, vehicle indicator lights, pedestrian gestures; road geometry like implicit and explicit driving paths, road surface; and road boundaries like curbs and other debris.
2D inputs are then converted into a 3D map using computer vision algorithms and steroscopic distance referencing.
The camera systems won’t just benefit individual vehicles, but contribute to a continually-updated HD map. Vital information is packaged in tiny kilobyte-sized uploads, and updates and received regularly to account for road surface conditions and for routes that do not reflect on existing digital maps.
This visual information could also play a large part in smart city building.
Visual information of roads can aid municipal administrations in ensuring maintenance work is kept up to ensure road safety.
Mobileye isn’t agreeing with Musk entirely, however. Musk’s Tesla had utilised its chips in earlier models, up until a fatal accident involving a woman in Florida.
The Intel-owned company also spoke of the implementation of additional sensors to augment its vision-based system – independence of data will build towards an MBTF (mean time between failures) of 10⁻⁷, as compared to 10⁻⁴ for average human driving. This reflects an accident every 10 million hours of driving as compared to one every 10,000 hours.