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Robot Car Sees Beyond Fog and Snowy Conditions

14 May 2018
The Marilyn robot car that can see through fog and snowy conditions. Source: VTT

The VTT Technical Research Center of Finland has updated its robot car, named Marilyn, so that it can see better than humans in foggy and snowy conditions as well as being able to navigate without stopping.

VTT says the car can see a human through fog and can avoid accidents automatically through the use of LiDAR mounted on the roof of the car where it can see wavelengths beyond human senses. The research organization said that this is a big step toward enabling autonomous vehicles to operate safely and capable of not stopping despite bad weather.

VTT added to Marilyn optical component wavelengths via 1550 nanometer LiDAR and intelligent software for improved sensor capabilities. Software modules have also been built in for filtering of point clouds and the assessment of scanner reliability to ensure the vehicle’s ability to function in fog and snow under which conditions the LiDAR sees visible and near infrared ranges of the spectrum.

"Although Marilyn's vision is limited to roughly 30 meters in thick fog, the new LiDAR type allows the car to be driven slowly rather than having full stop," said Matti Kutila Project Manager of VTT's RobotCar Crew team.

The robot car combines both radar and LiDAR technologies by optimizing the best aspects of the different sensors making it safer than a car driven by a person, VTT said.

However, VTT warned that the autonomous vehicle has a long way to go before it is able to drive people safely but the addition of new sensors and detection is a large leap toward achieving that goal.

Marilyn will be shown at the RobustSENSE event in Ulm, Germany, happening this week along with five other robot cars from the University of Ulm, Daimler, FZI, Fiat, Ficosa and Fraunhofer. VTT said this is the first time in Europe where six robotic cars will operate according to different scenarios in the same campus area where pedestrians are also moving. The cars will automatically challenge crossroads, route planning and change from manual and automated mode.

The next step is for VTT to test out the automated parking capabilities of Marilyn from a researcher outside of the car.

To contact the author of this article, email Peter.Brown@ieeeglobalspec.com


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