As a title, that’s a bold statement. After a lot of hard work it’s also a statement theProvizio team are now confident to stand over. As covered in an earlier post, we started Provizio to solve the driving problem; the driving problem being the reasons we crash, the reasons for unconscionable road fatalities or what the autonomous industry often refers to as “the hard bit”.
Autonomous vehicles were meant to end road crashes while simultaneously providing low cost mobility, but this goal depended on ubiquitous autonomy which we are no closer to today than 10 years and $100bn’s of investment ago. Autonomous Vehicle (AV) groups have made impressive strides in delivering driverless vehicles in geo-fenced regions. However, while this has proved that it is indeed possible to deliver safe autonomy on our roads, the cost associated with these platforms means they cannot be mass deployed and so cannot impact the driving problem in the near term.
Provizio imagined an affordable perception system that could give every driver AV grade perception, 360° insights in all weather conditions and pave a true path to ubiquitous autonomy; that’s why we created 5D Perception®.
The Perception Problem
AV’s today use a combination of sensors and compute resources to perceive the world and take the human driver out of the loop.
To allow an AV to see the world in 3D, the industry has developed automotive LiDAR (the large siren type devices on the roof AV’s).
Radar is deployed all around the vehicle because of its unique doppler properties that deliver the precise range and velocity of objects.
Cameras deliver semantic information such as the ability to read road markings and traffic lights.
Satellites provide location data and, when combined with high-definition mapping, allows the vehicle to navigate.
These sensors are then fused on a central compute where a lot of heavy lifting software takes over, deploying processing algorithms, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver a passenger safely from A to B.
Unfortunately, there are several disadvantages to this approach:
It’s a complex and expensive platform. LiDAR is largely what allows these vehicles to succeed but as a sensor, it is expensive to build and hard to scale.
LiDAR needs to be seen to see and therefore impacts vehicle aesthetics. A number of companies are making inroads on building scalable solid-state LiDAR but most acknowledge and focus on forward facing perception. The balance of the system is also high cost as it requires external mounting and cleaning.
LiDAR struggles to perform in bad weather. Radar doesn’t have these cost or environmental issues which is why it is deployed in almost all vehicles on the road today but today’s Radars lack the resolution a LiDAR offers…until now.
LiDAR produces an immense amount of data which places a huge demand on vehicle compute and networking systems in order to process the data in real-time. Automakers are struggling to both reduce manufacturing and materials costs, while simultaneously increasing computational power and network bandwidth.
Introducing 5D Perception®
5D Perception is a sensor to perception level solution designed to target the core constraints impeding the progression of today’s automotive perception technology. Our proprietary super-resolution imaging radar, which sees the world in a LiDAR like 3D point cloud and also delivers the precise range and velocity of every point, provides the 4-dimensional sensing element of our 5D solution. Uniquely, the entire radar backend is built on a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), which allows us to deliver AI perception on-the-edge. This is what we call the 5th D in our 5D Perception® solution. This offers multiple advantages to our partners and ultimately all road users:
Edge perception means edge decision making leading to driving interventions which are 30–100x quicker than today’s vehicles. Reduced intervention time = increased safety.
The system allows for low level fusion with other sensors such as camera and LiDAR, enabling unique insights and redundancy.
By running ML and AI Neural Nets on the edge, data from the sensor can provide high-level information such as object detections, localisation information and hazard warnings, without the need to send data hungry point clouds through the vehicle network. In doing so, the cost of on-board vehicle compute and networking can be significantly reduced.
Since the entire sensor is software defined, Software Over The Air (SOTA) can be leveraged to deliver enhanced customer functionality, without the need to purchase new hardware. This brings an additional level of flexibility to consumers, while minimising manufacturing complexity.
Leveraging our proprietary super-resolution imaging radars, coupled with our super-resolution AI enhanced point clouds, 5D Perception can enable accurate Simultaneous Localisation & Mapping (SLAM) without the need for GPS. This resolves many of the performance constraints of existing sensors when used within tunnels or underground car parks.
An Accelerated Path to Production
To deliver 5D Perception® and get the most from our high-resolution radar, we developed a perception stack which is designed to leverage best-in-class sensors from partner suppliers of camera and LiDAR sensors. This provides a clear path for OEM and AV partners to develop increasingly complex safety and autonomous solutions including:
Level 3/4 Safe Augmented Driving: Crash resistant driving and limited autonomy can be realised with 360° high resolution radar and camera coverage, coupled with best-in-class LiDAR acting as the primary forward facing perception sensor.
Level 4 Safe Autonomous Driving: By beefing up the forward-facing radar range and resolution we now have two super-resolution forward facing perception sensors which will enable extended autonomy.
Level 5 Safe Autonomous Driving: Using fused super-resolution radar and camera sensing in full 360° to create a 1km cocoon of perception unlocks ubiquitous autonomy. In this configuration, LiDAR can be deployed as a redundant safety sensor on partner’s L5 platforms.
Teamwork to Make the Dreamwork
Since foundation we promised to partner, partner, partner to achieve our goal of zero road deaths and a true path to autonomy. The real key to this technology achieving mass adoption is the ability for it to be implemented at scale, with Provizio working alongside OEM’s and Tier 1 auto manufacturers to bring this technology to series production and on our roads by 2025.
Our core IP licence model has us working with some very exciting partners already and we will be announcing additional partners throughout 2023, however we are always open to more. We are looking for:
Automotive Tier 1s with series production opportunities who can licence MIMSO® to reduce production cost or ramp up resolution — this allows partners to supercharge their Radar solutions.
OEMs can licence our perception stack to fill out their driving experience — our goal is to provide the full perception stack to our customers to reduce their time to market.
We are partnering with leading LiDAR and Camera providers to allow them to deliver improved fused solutions while simultaneously lowering their overall unit costs — this provides a win win partnership to leverage individual partner key strengths.
We are partnering with central processing partners to fully realise our 5D Perception® goals — we recognise that 5D Perception® requires computation power and working with partners who can provide this decreases our customer adoption time.
By leveraging our proprietary 5D Perception® technology, Provizio can supply class leading systems for a fraction of the current cost and with low integration complexity. That has led to applications beyond traditional automotive. On any one-day, Provizio and our partners are testing on roads in Shannon and Palo Alto, in German cornfields, down Pittsburgh mines or scooting in Stockholm. We’d love to hear about your challenges and how 5D Perception® and MIMSO® could make an impact.
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