While there are many people who are excited about the possibility of autonomous vehicles taking over the road one day, there are just as many who are terrified about the idea of self-driving cars populating the nation’s streets. Reason being, it’s hard to imagine these cars being able to handle certain types of conditions while maintaining a high level of safety.
Fog is one of the many things that people worry about as far as autonomous vehicles are concerned. If heavy fog blankets a city, how in the world is a self-driving car going to be able to find its way through it? The thought is that these cars might be more prone to accidents when dealing with the kinds of conditions that give humans problems when they’re driving.
Finnish research institute VTT is attempting to put people’s worries to rest by coming up with a solution to the fog problem.
They have figured out a way to allow their robot car Marilyn to see through fog when it’s covering the road using a lidar mounted right on the car’s roof.
A lidar uses light from a laser to detect obstacles that stand in its path, and VTT believes the lidar they’ve created and installed on Marilyn is capable of seeing wavelengths that humans wouldn’t be able to see. This, in turn, makes it possible for Marilyn to pick up on fog and drive through it without any issues.
The lidar that was developed by VTT could potentially help self-driving cars to drive through more than just fog, too. In theory, it might be able to “see” through snow and detect people much sooner than the average human would be able to.
There will, of course, need to be further tests done to see how Marilyn performs in a range of foggy conditions. The technology used by VTT isn’t road ready just yet. But it does offer some hope to those who are banking on self-driving cars hitting the road soon. It might only be a matter of time before autonomous cars are able to maneuver through fog like it’s not even there.
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