Self driving cars have become less a vision of the future and more so a phenomenon of the present. While there are still some issues, concerns and fine tuning to do on self driving cars, the fact that they will be a common element on our roads in the future especially, has never been more true. You may see different self driving cars on the roads in your town or city now and wonder exactly how these automobiles work and what some of the science is behind them. Afterall, trusting a car to operate and drive itself seems a bit scary and maybe something we could never imagine. So what makes these autonomous cars actually run in a safe and effective way? Lasers are a huge part id not the most important part of a self driving car and the success of its operation. Self Driving cars have various sensors that help to detect the obstacles and map its environment. That is where we introduce the Lidar sensor, which is a laser detection and ranging system that operates on light waves instead of radio waves. Developers have found that this kind of infrared sensor achieves the capabilities those most like the human eye!
There are 2 types of Lidar systems that play a part in self driving cars:
- 3D Flash Systems- these systems offer a wide angle and optic source that reflect light form their exposure onto the detector and mimics or models its surroundings based on the time of light calculations( Sounds a bit complicated doesn’t it?)
- Scanning System- This system emits light systematically in every direction and helps to detect echos individually to help map your surroundings.
Still there are different metrics that are used to gauge the quality and operating systems of the 2 LiDAR systems. These metrics include:
- Lateral Resolution
- Longitudinal Resolution
- Longe-Range Detection
- Scan Rate
Of all the different components of the LiDAR system the laser source is the MOST IMPORTANT of all. Not only that the quality of the laser system is critical as well. The quality of the laser source is measured by different pulse measurements. These measurements include high pulse repetition which allows for scanning leading to a better and higher quality of data output. Pulse duration which gives off short pulse measurements in picoseconds and is needed to achieve longitudinal resolutions.
While the actual physics and understanding of these infrared lasers in self driving cars may seem a bit daunting and a little out of most spectrums of comprehension, one thing is for sure. Scientits are revolutionizing the way we drive the automobiles on the roads and the safety of self driving cars as we speak. As the concept and operating systems of self driving cars are further fine tuned and established we will only continue to see improvement in the models and safety before autonomous cars are prevalent on our roads. Thanks to infrared lasers and the use of radio and light waves self driving cars are not a what if of the future and instead are becoming a thing of the present!