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Austrian lead project develops sensory organ for safe driving in the future

cockpit of self-driving car © Infineon

Since 2020 the project "iLIDS4SAM" has been carrying out research into sensor systems that provide autonomous road and rail vehicles with a three-dimensional image of their surroundings and are able to anticipate danger situations in advance. Under the overall coordination of Infineon Austria, eleven leading Austrian project partners from industry and science are pooling their know-how and expertise in this project. When it comes to the mobility of the future, the reliability and safety of independently operating vehicles is the top priority. What is happening in the surrounding area must be recognized comprehensively and quickly, especially in complex, urban road and rail traffic. This is precisely what the three-year project "Integrated LiDAR Sensors for Safe & Smart Automated Mobility (""iLIDS4SAM") is conducting research into.

The project's objective is to develop a powerful and cost-effective laser sensor system with "deep learning" data management that will contribute to turning vehicles into intelligent and forward-looking road and rail users. The compact sensor system will be tested in urban road and rail traffic as well as in agricultural applications with the aim of demonstrating both its integration and practical performance.

To enable automated vehicles to perceive their environment in its entirety, the team of researchers pursues the approach of the eye with three-dimensional vision. New and compact lidar sensor systems are designed to provide a wider field of vision at a high level of precision. Lidar stands for "light detection and ranging" and means light recognition and range measurement. A laser beam uses microchip mirrors to scan the environment horizontally and vertically in millimetre precision. It measures not only the distance but also the shape of objects. The result is a three-dimensional image of moving vehicles or pedestrians, traffic signs, obstacles at the roadside or even road markings.

The related components, the connection technologies and the mirror design need to be optimised and further miniaturised so that the sensors are compact and sturdy enough to be fully integrated in vehicles. For example, the sensors will be installed behind the windscreen, in the headlights or rear lights. They will offer a 360-degree view in combination with radar and camera systems.

Learning sensors

The collection, analysis and above all instant processing of data are essential for safe autonomous driving. This is why test rides in real application scenarios are an important part of the project. They provide a wealth of real data, so that it will be possible to predict behaviour by means of signal processing algorithms and to assess risks. Big data and artificial intelligence make the vehicle of the future virtually a "learning machine" that will improve and optimise itself continually.

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