Frost & Sullivan is asking the auto industry to clarify and standardize marketing terminology for driver assistance and self-driving technologies. The consultancy also claims that lidar technology can “enable significant advances in driver assistance.” F&S calls Lidar “the key technology to enable both full driving autonomy as well as safe driver assistance.”*
The Velodyne Lidar-sponsored white paper, called “A Safety-first Approach to Developing and Marketing Driver Assistance Technology,” is not without self-interest given Velodyne’s Lidar business, but it nonetheless points to a critical safety need: A fatal accident in Florida last week by a Tesla with so-called “autopilot” was not the first fatality with vehicles – or Teslas that are supposed to improve safety by ultimately removing the driver and letting computer code make life and death decisions. The safety improvements are thus far without any statistical confirmation.
SAE International developed definitions for different levels of vehicle automation – Levels 0 through 5. The report calls on the industry to eliminate Level 3, where drivers need to intervene and rapidly control the vehicle when automation fails. In its place, the recommendation is to categorize vehicles as having Level 2+ (advanced driver assistance systems – ADAS) or Level 4+ (autonomous vehicles) capabilities, creating “a clear boundary between the levels of automation that require an attentive driver (Level 2+) and those that do not (Level 4+).” This change can reduce confusion about the definition and appropriate use of “self-driving.” The report recommends that any vehicle below Level 4 not be marketed as being “autonomous” or “self-driving.”
“The significant driver experience and safety gains that advanced driver assistance systems can provide are being overshadowed by the confusion created from misalignment of marketing claims and vehicle capabilities,” said Dr. Rajender Thusu, Industry Principal, Frost & Sullivan, the white paper’s author. “The industry should adopt consistent nomenclature and avoid marketing spin. Segmenting vehicles as Level 2+ and Level 4+ would help significantly reduce confusion about the meaning of self-driving.”
The white paper examines how Level 2+ vehicles can be optimized for safety by utilizing lidar technology with complementary cameras and radar. Lidar-enabled perception systems enhance ADAS features such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and Lane Keep Assist (LKA).
The report observes that “unlike radar, lidar provides much higher resolution, enabling accurate object detection. Unlike cameras, lidar provides accurate depth perception, with distance accuracy of a few centimeters, making it possible to precisely localize the position of the vehicle on the road and detect available free space for the vehicle to navigate.”
Lidar technology can “offer a 360-degree horizontal field of view and up to 40-degree vertical field of view” – capabilities “essential for accurately locating the vehicle within its environment and planning its driving path.” It also points out how lidar “can operate in poor lighting conditions, unlike cameras, since lidars are their own light source.”
*See Ford Wants Fully Autonomous Ride-Sharing Car in 2021 – Ford has invested in Velodyne, the Silicon Valley-based company working on light detection and ranging – LiDAR- sensors. The aim is to quickly mass-produce a more affordable automotive LiDAR sensor. Ford has a longstanding relationship with Velodyne. Ford was among the first to use LiDAR for both high-resolution mapping and autonomous driving beginning more than 10 years ago.
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