Lidar Industry Insights

High-Speed Highway Testing Update: Why Lidar Hardware And Perception Software Matters To OEMs

MicroVision Track Testing Swarm High Speed

High-speed ADAS capabilities are the next progression in the development of a safe driving experience. We understand that these capabilities are paramount for automotive OEMs looking to deliver the next generation of ADAS expected by car buyers. While existing lidar providers have been focused on low-speed scenarios, safe driving at highway speeds requires a different set of proficiencies from technology. Lidar systems will need to be able to see further and clearer at faster speeds to enable rapid decision-making by advanced driver assistance systems. We believe that this is where MicroVision shines.

Delivering on commitments made in earnings calls and at CES this year to test our lidar solution at highway speeds, recent track testing put our latest lidar solution through a series of common driving scenarios at highway speeds of 80+ miles per hour. Our goal was to demonstrate the density and low latency of our ultra-high-resolution point cloud by simulating scenarios that drivers face on highways every day.

About the test vehicle

We equipped a new 2022 Jeep Cherokee with our latest MicroVision lidar system, including a dynamic lidar sensor and a short-to-medium range sensor. The lidar data captured from these sensors is fused with additional data captured from radar sensors positioned on the front bumper of the test vehicle.

For these tests, the lidar point cloud showing what parts of the road are drivable and non-drivable appears on a laptop in the back seat of the test vehicle. But ultimately, it’s this ultra-high-resolution point cloud data along with the raw lidar and radar data that would be fused in our custom ASIC and passed along to the ADAS, allowing OEMs to create faster and more accurate safety features.

Everyday highway driving scenarios

Focusing on what OEMs have told us is most important to their evaluation process, we put our solution through a series of three highly complex scenarios.

1. On-Ramp Merge

This scenario involves the test vehicle moving at highway speeds. A second vehicle appears on an on-ramp looking to merge in ahead of our test car. To add to the challenge, the adjacent lane is blocked by a third vehicle. The key here is to determine the velocity of both vehicles with absolute accuracy and precision, while providing real-time data on drivable and non-drivable areas. Because our system is low latency at 30 Hz, we enable fast response times and provide instant velocity of all vehicles being tracked.

2. Changing lighting conditions

Another common scenario is entering and exiting tunnels. This is challenging for drivers because our eyes can struggle to adapt to changing lighting conditions. Camera-based ADAS systems may struggle in these situations because it takes time for the lens of the camera to adjust as the light changes. By contrast, lidar shines in these situations. Our track testing has our test vehicle entering and exiting a dark tunnel. On the exit, there is also an obstacle ahead in the lane.

3. Hidden vehicle

We’ve all likely faced a situation where a vehicle unexpectedly pulled out from in front of another car or truck that was blocking its view. It takes us by surprise and can rattle even the most skilled driver. Responding to this type of scenario requires lightning-fast perception and reflexes. Highway speed ADAS features will need to reliably perceive these emerging situations and act faster than humans ever could. Our track testing scenario simulates this and adds an obstacle in the distance in the passing lane.

Why it matters

We want OEMs to get excited about the future of driving and the success of our test track day shows that the technology to enable safe driving at highway speeds is here. Successfully navigating highways, changing lighting conditions, and hidden vehicle detection demonstrate that our lidar solution is poised to elevate current ADAS to the next level. In addition to high performance at high speeds, our low-profile sensors (which can be observed on our test vehicle and are still in pre-production) will continue to be further integrated—allowing for the preservation of the sleek, stunning design language that defines a brand. Enabling OEMs to maintain control over the driving experience and develop innovative and differentiated new safety features through customization and partnership strategies is at the heart of our partnership philosophy.

We are proud to meet our goals and look forward to contributing to the future of a safer driving experience.

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