Thursday , February 21 2019

Uber and Google quarreling over lidar technology. What is it?

As carmakers and technology entrants like Uber and Google scramble to develop autonomous vehicles, lidar has become an extremely desired technology


San Francisco: spacecraft use it to measure distance. Farmers use it to figure out that fields would like fertilizer. Archaeologists use it to map topography. And, crucially for Uber Technologies inc. and Alphabet opposition’s Waymo, self-driving cars use lidar to navigate.

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As carmakers and technology entrant’s ascent to develop autonomous vehicles, lidar has become an extremely coveted technology. At present, it’s at the center of a lawsuit fighting Waymo against Uber, the ride-hailing upstart looking for to create its own independent vehicle empire.

Waymo, the self-driving car business of Google parent Alphabet, suspect Uber in a court bit on Thursday of robbery its lidar designs. Former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded 9.7 gigabytes of files before he left to found a startup that was next acquired by Uber, the company stated in the suit.

“Misappropriating this technology is similar to theft a secret recipe from a beverage company,” Waymo stated in a blog post on Medium. “We trust these actions were part of a concerted plan to steal Waymo’s trade secrets and intellectual property.”

“We take the assertions made against Otto and Uber employees extremely and we will review this matter carefully,” Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler wrote in an e-mail.

A look at the technology at work in lidar — and the role it plays in helping cars drive by themselves — helps explain why the businesses think about it thus vital.

Lidar may be a radar-like system that uses lasers rather than radio waves to create a 3-D image of the surrounding landscape. Since satellite navigation systems are solely accurate to within sixteen feet and may be simply flummoxed by high-rise and glass-fronted buildings, autonomous vehicles require an array of different sensors to position themselves exactly and maintain awareness of close pedestrians, vehicles, and different objects.

Waymo has its own lidar. lidar specialists like Velodyne lidar inc. say that, to chop the driver completely and permanently out of the equation, the technology is important. The Morgan Hill, the California-based company counts Tesla, Uber, Google and carmakers like Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen ag among its customers. Those companies use lidar for analysis and mapping purposes. Within the models that are on the road, Tesla Inc. doesn’t use a lidar, instead of deploying a mixture of image cameras, sonar and classic radar for its Autopilot system, which permits restricted autonomous driving.

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