Accurate Navigation Without GPS

Circuit keeps up to 5.5-meter accuracy after 3 kilometers Photo: Qingbo Guo The global positioning system can locate you within 5 to 10 meters anywhere on Earth—as long as your receiver is in the line of sight of multiple satellites. Getting location information indoors is tricky. A team at the University of Utah has now put the solution underfoot: A suite of sensors and circuits mounted to a boot can determine position with an accuracy of about 5 meters, indoors or out, without GPS. The navigation system, installed in a very hefty prototype boot, could help rescue workers navigate inside buildings, and show firefighters where their team members are. It might also be integrated with virtual or augmented reality games. The Utah researchers presented their GPS-free navigation system on Tuesday at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. The Utah group’s navigation system is built on an inertial measurement Continue reading Accurate Navigation Without GPS

GM Demos Robocars in San Francisco

GM’s Cruise subsidiary is tackling a tougher road environment than Waymo faced, but it’s keeping a driver behind the wheel Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters Cruise Automation, the self-driving subsidiary of General Motors, has taken  observers on rides in a more challenging environment than rival Waymo chose for a similar demonstration a few weeks ago. On Tuesday, Cruise sent a few select journalists through the busy streets of San Francisco. Today, it sent investment analysts as well. Waymo, for its part, conducted its first public rides at a test facility and soon afterward, in the sedate suburban streets of Chandler, Ariz. Both companies deployed versions of GM’s Chevrolet Bolt, an all-electric car that can drive an impressively long way on a single charge. But though GM’s Cruise took on a big city, that doesn’t mean it’s in the lead. There’s also the question of safety: Cruise felt the need to plant safety drivers behind the wheel, whereas Waymo recently relegated them to the back seat. Continue reading GM Demos Robocars in San Francisco

Velodyne Unveils Monster Lidar With 128 Laser Beams

The company claims the resolution is high enough to identify objects without using other sensors Photo: VelodyneVelodyne has unveiled a new lidar sensor, shown here, with 128 laser beams. It’s designed to help self-driving cars navigate and avoid obstacles in the road. Velodyne re-asserted its dominance of the lidar market today by announcing a product with 128 laser beams, twice as many as its previous top-of-the-line model. “The VLS-128 is the best LiDAR sensor on the planet, delivering the most advanced real-time 3D vision for safe driving,” Mike Jellen, the president of Velodyne LiDAR, said in a statement. The announcement, which had been widely anticipated, leaves out the one detail that everyone most wants to know: the price. The company’s previous top-of-the-line product originally sold for more than US $70,000. Today, though, a host of rival companies are on the scene, some of them promising solid-state products that cost less because they Continue reading Velodyne Unveils Monster Lidar With 128 Laser Beams