The trucking industry and government are among entities highly interested in development of software-defined sensing technology, says Andrew Nelson, vice president of trucking at AEye, Inc.
Everyone needs to see what’s ahead as they walk or drive, and with enough detail and granularity to determine whether the object viewed is dangerous. If anyone requires that kind of visibility, it’s a truck driver heading down the road at 60-plus miles per hour. Is the object ahead a harmless plastic bag, or something that could blow a tire? Software-defined sensing, currently being evaluated by the trucking industry, could answer that question for the driver, says Nelson.
Lidar, the acronym for “light detection and ranging,” is part of what makes software-demand sensing work, he says. Lidar sends out hundreds of thousands of pulses of light each second. “Based on how long it takes for that pulse to get back, you can determine how far things are away,” Nelson says. “So you always have a lidar that can do what's needed at the moment for the driving environment.”
It's clear that the technology would be of great benefit on interstate highways. For one thing, Nelson says, Class 8 trucks would gain the ability to “see” cars in front of them when they’re stopping. “You’re not waiting for a brake light.”
The ability to know what is hundreds of feet ahead allows a driver to “manage the environment.” For instance, a driver driving more than 60 miles per hour would know if an object ahead required slowing down, or if changing lanes would be a safe option.
The technology would certainly be useful to autonomous trucks barreling down the highway, Nelson says. Moreover, it could enable autonomous “yard dogs” to pull trailers to their payload.
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