France: Researchers from Information and Communication Technology (ICT) are creating autonomous robots that use LiDAR in a new way. Rather than having a robot simply follow a one-step process of LiDAR measurement, the new process has two steps.
The first step is a comprehensive mapping of the surrounding area that occurs before the robot in normal operation. In the second step, the robot uses its LIDAR to detect what’s around it. However, with its already stored knowledge of the surroundings, the robot only needs to distinguish what is new.
The project is called IRPS (Intelligent Robot Porter System), and is being pursued by a group of institutions and companies, four from Europe and one each from Canada and Israel. The project is being funded by the European Union.
The researchers, who call the technology 3D LIMS (3D LiDAR Imaging and Measurement System), foresee a broad range of applications for it, from navigating autonomous vehicles around airports to monitoring industrial equipment and enhancing security surveillance.
“This two-step LIDAR process, involving first calibration and then real-time navigation, is the key innovation. It allows the system to accurately and rapidly detect changes in the environment,” says Maurice Heitz, the manager of the IRPS project and a researcher at French technology firm CS Communication & Systèmes.
The technology not only detects objects with greater accuracy, but unlike camera-based robotic vision systems it is not affected by shadows, rain or fog, and provides angular and distance information for each pixel, making it suitable for use in virtually any environment.