Motional makes virtual reality environments open source to help accelerate AV research

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In 2019, Motional made nuScenes (its large-scale autonomous driving data set) open source to help spur industry-wide collaboration and further research. Since its original release, nuScenes has been downloaded by more than 12,000 academics and researchers, and referenced in over 600 publications, pioneering a movement of safety-focused data sharing across the industry.

Motional says it will now make nuReality – which consists of custom-built virtual reality (VR) environments used to study the interaction between autonomous vehicles (AVs) and pedestrians – publicly available for the research community.

The company notes that a key challenge to widespread acceptance and adoption of driverless vehicles is clear, safe and effective communication between AVs and other road users. When a pedestrian or cyclist crosses the street and a human driver isn’t behind the wheel to signal recognition and intention using, say, hand gestures or facial expressions, how will road users know the vehicle has acknowledged them and will yield to let them cross? This is one of the first of many AV and human interaction research challenges the company envisions would benefit from nuReality.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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