Nottingham, UK, 23 July 2007 – 3D Laser Mapping is playing a key role in the development of robotic vehicles with the latest laser guidance technology.
The Nottingham-based company distributes Riegl laser scanners, which have been selected by 7 of the teams hoping to compete in a $2 million prize competition for driverless cars being held in America. The vehicle-mounted laser scanners provide a critical view of the street environment helping the ‘robots’ negotiate obstacles and other road users. Sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research organisation of the United States Department of Defense, the challenge offers a total prize fund of $3.5 million with the winning robotic vehicle receiving $2 million.
3D laser scanners capture highly accurate and detailed surface measurements by transmitting optical pulses that are reflected from a surface or feature. Using the time taken for each individual pulse to be returned and the known value of the speed of light the system can accurately calculate the distance of the feature from the scanning unit. The Riegl hardware selected by the 7 DARPA Urban Challenge teams is ideally suited to this application combining high-speed measurements, with advanced data processing and rugged design.
“The selection of this technology by 7 of the teams hoping to compete in this prestigious event teams enforces our position as performance leader across a range of market sectors, including autonomous vehicles.” Said Dr Graham Hunter, Managing Director of 3D Laser Mapping a Reigl Premier Distributor.
The 3rd DARPA event is due to take place on the 3rd November and introduces a new range of challenges for competing teams. The DARPA Urban Challenge course will involve a 60 mile urban area route, at a location in the USA which is yet to be announced, to be completed in less than 6 hours. Rules will include adherence to all traffic regulations while negotiating with other traffic and urban obstacles.
“It was an important step to have autonomous ground vehicles that can navigate and drive across open and difficult terrain from city to city (as in previous Challenges). But the next big leap will be an autonomous vehicle that can navigate and operate in traffic, a far more complex challenge for a ‘robotic’ driver.” Dr Tony Tether, Director of DARPA testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, House Armed Services Committee, Terrorism and Unconventional Threat and Capabilities Subcommittee on the 21st March 2007.
3D Laser Mapping is a UK based specialist in laser scanning solutions and the Riegl Premier Distributor for the UK, Ireland and sub-Saharan Africa. 3D Laser Mapping integrate laser scanner hardware systems with their own software and peripherals to create robust solutions for mapping, mining and manufacturing to name just a few.