Google's autonomous driving subsidiary company, Waymo, has begun offering one of their main technologies up for sale as they begin to set their technology as the basis for other companies' self-driving efforts.
Waymo's Laser Bear Honeycomb technology is a short-range sensor that autonomous vehicles can use to help find nearby objects. In a recent blog post Waymo stated their system is just one of three different LiDAR sensor systems that Waymo has created to help bolster and push their self-driving vehicle fleet.
LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and is what most companies equip their vehicles with to help detect the environment around their cars. The sensors on the vehicle constantly shoot off laser pulses in a circle and observe the time before the light returns, measuring the depth. Each laser fire creates one dot that then creates a 3D picture around the vehicle that is constantly updated as the vehicle drives.
Waymo puts their Laser Bear Honeycomb system into their autonomous taxis to complement the other longer-range LiDAR systems also in use on the car. These smaller sensors find objects that are right next to the vehicle, which includes other cars, traffic cones, pedestrians, and any other object that gets too close to the car.
The Honeycomb sensors form a full view around the car with a 95 degree vertical reach and see up to 30 feet away from the car. The sensors can see almost 60 feet away when detecting down a sloped surface. One Laser Bear Honeycomb sensor can see up to four distinct objects at one time allowing a fully equipped vehicle to see a large variety of objects even in a dense area.
The company has stated this sensor system will now be provided to any company that is currently not operating within the self-driving marketplace. This would include industries like security, robotics, and agriculture.
Waymo said that several companies have purchased the technology and even more have approached them with the prospect of buying.
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