Waymo announced an external funding round of $2.25 billion earlier this week, to help expand its offerings. On the technological front, the expansion is also being supported, with Waymo today detailing self-driving sensors of the 5th generation.
The “5th-generation Waymo Driver sensor suite” has been in testing in San Francisco for several months now. Jaguar’s electric I-Paces are the first vehicles that are fitted with the latest hardware to help “enable the scaled deployment of the Waymo Driver.”
The Alphabet division, unlike Elon Musk and Tesla, has long believed in incorporating three different types of sensors to provide as much data as possible. Using all five senses, the company previously likened it to humans. LIDAR creates a 3-D view of the vehicle’s surroundings, from near objects 300 meters away.
The new system provides “higher resolution,” starting with 360 LIDAR mounted to a bird’s eye view at the top of the car. Perimeter LIDAR is located on the front and rear bumper, and just above the front wheels on each side.
To compensate for more complex environments, cameras have high dynamic range and temperature stability. On the roof there is a long range front-facing camera, as well as a 360 vision system that can see 500 meters away. To see signs, pedestrians, and other important details, Waymo alludes to “much higher performance levels than cameras on cars today”
For up-close perspectives a perimeter vision system works in conjunction with LIDAR perimeter:
There is also a peripheral vision system to the “blind spots caused by parked cars or large vehicles.”
Finally, there is radar to “instantaneously see and measure an object’s velocity.” In addition to what is in motion, the new Waymo system can track objects that are barely moving or stopped, thanks to higher resolution and improved processing.
Waymo’s 5th-generation sensors combine to make vehicles aware of what’s happening around them as early as possible, and to ensure that the fleet can be deployed to more places, regardless of the weather or land.