Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.
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66 unmanned systems inside October/November 2016 LAND DRIVERLESS CARS W hether or not the autonomous vehicle market takes off in a few years w ill depend on not only sensor prices dropping dramatically, but what combination of systems will be used by developers. The commoditization of perception sensors will allow the self-driving car industry to ex- perience a revolution similar to the growth of computers in the 1970s and 1980s, said Bobby Hambrick, AutonomouStuff CEO. "The pric- ing of sensors will significantly decrease, for production and research and development, starting now and much more in the upcoming two to three years," he said. However, given the different autonomous vehicle driving conditions, Hambrick said he wouldn't give higher importance to one sen- sor over another. "Each sensor modality has its own tradeoffs. They will be fused together in order to provide truly robust automation," he said. "Many sensor technologies are used for fully autonomous driving because no one sensor is immune to all conditions. Of course, Photo courtesy of AutonomouStuff camera, LiDAR and radar are mostly used for perception, but there are many other inputs necessary for full autonomous driving. Hambrick cites data input for localization, traffic conditions, risk map data, driver mood and behavior as additional important autono- mous vehicle sensors. He sees the traditional mantra of 'smaller, faster, cheaper and easy-to- manufacture' becoming the norm in autono- mous vehicle sensor technology. One of the major sensors for autonomous ve- hicles, LiDAR, is coming down in price, which will be attractive to developers. "LiDAR sen- sors are higher priced today due to limited unit volumes, usually less than 10,000 units," said Mike Jellen, Velodyne's president and COO. "That said, per-unit costs for LiDAR sensors can be quoted today at much more attractive prices when increased to automotive produc- tion volumes. Essentially, carmakers com- mitting to production programs are receiving great LiDAR sensing pricing." LiDAR's continued use as one of the main autonomous sensors continues as sensors cre- AutonomouStuff is integrating GNSS and an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) into their custom product for developers. The company combines antennas, fi rmware, inertial augmented systems, and software. Some applications include highway automation that includes lane centering, according to the company.