Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2017

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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71 unmanned systems inside October/November 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. investment from Ford and Chinese Internet search engine giant Baidu. LiDAR technology has been at the forefront of controversy between two technologies gi- ants this year. Uber recently fired Anthony Levandowski, who led the company's autono- mous vehicle project and co-founded self-driv- ing truck company Otto. Levandowski has been at the center of a lawsuit between Uber and Alphabet's Waymo autonomous vehicle unit. Waymo said that the engineer took LiDAR development trade se- crets with him when he joined Uber. L eva ndowsk i, who invoked his Fif th Amendment rights during a deposition, had stepped aside from working on some of Uber's self-driving vehicles, according to published reports. He initially worked on the Google- Waymo self-driving program in 2007 and stepped down in 2016. According to published reports, U.S. District Judge William A lsup, in San Francisco federal court, said it was undisputed that Levandowski downloaded 14,000 documents before he stopped working for Waymo. Uber said that none of the documents reached them. GNSS Sensors Don't Get the Hype The main navigation and guidance sensor for any autonomous system starts with its GNSS receiver. However, compared to cameras, LiDAR, radar and other sensors, GNSS doesn't get the publicity in most published reports, said Jon Auld, NovAtel director, safety criti- cal systems, in a recent interview with Inside Unmanned Systems. "I may be biased here, but I think some in the industry are underestimating the GNSS component as a critical sensor. At present, camera and LiDAR technology are getting a lot of attention, but they have limitations in their capability for high-precision, absolute positioning," he said. "GNSS offers worldwide coverage, all weather operation, the ability to provide positioning between two vehicles that cannot see each other and positioning when road and sign markings are not visible. The public will expect an autonomous car to just work and they will not be content unless the overall solution is available at a very high rate." NovAtel has signed a contract with Stanford University for a study to determine how GNSS technology can deliver a positioning system that meets safety and accuracy requirements for au- tonomous land vehicles, the company said. NovAtel said the study, to be conducted at Stanford's GPS Research Laboratory, will build on similar aircraft research. In addition, the re- search will include concepts for high integrity carrier-phase algorithms, threat models, and safety monitors for improving autonomous ve- hicle transportation, according to the company. NovAtel formed a Safety Critical Systems Group last year to leverage its experience in aviation technology to meet requirements for driverless cars. The company honed its autono- mous vehicle expertise in such programs as the Federal Aviation Administration's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and other satel- lite-based augmentation systems (SBAS). Through the Safety Critical Systems Group initiative, NovAtel also will offer products for other markets in the military and commercial sectors, including agriculture and mining. Working with Detroit Isn't Easy… To keep on top of ever-changing technology and new services, some automakers want to embrace start-ups and smaller companies. However, some original equipment manufac- turers (OEMs) take a hard line on start-ups and other newcomers to the industry. At a connected vehicle conference earlier this year, one Audi executive said he would not talk to a start-up unless it was through one of the company's established Tier 1 partners. However, at a recent TU-Automotive Detroit conference, Volkswagen outlined its electric car ambitions, hoping to have millions of cars on the road in the next decade. One company executive "The commoditization of PERCEPTION SENSORS will allow the self- driving car industry to experience a revolution similar to the growth of computers in the 1970s and 1980s." Bobby Hambrick, AutonomouStuff CEO

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