Waymo drives into the fifth generation

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Waymo has been testing the fifth generation of its Driver hardware sensor suite, using a Jaguar I-Pace in San Francisco.

In a blog post, head of hardware Satish Jeyachandran set out what the fifth generation of Waymo Driver involves.

The I-Pace has lidar to provide a high-resolution, 360° field of view, offering a range of more than 300m (984ft).

The 360 lidar system provides a bird’s eye view of cars, cyclists and pedestrians, helping Waymo Driver navigate city driving by spotting hazards such as a car door being opened a block away.

Perimeter lidars placed at four points around the vehicle extend coverage with a wide field of view to detect nearby objects.

Jeyachandran said, “As a system, this new family of lidars is a significant upgrade, enhancing the Waymo Driver’s capabilities in a way that will help us as we scale our fleet to more challenging places.”

The long-range cameras and 360° vision system can see details such as pedestrians over 500m (1,640ft) away. The perimeter vision system works with perimeter lidar to give the Waymo Driver another perspective of objects close to the vehicle.

The peripheral vision system reduces blind spots caused by parked cars or large vehicles. Jeyachandran said, “These peripheral cameras enable us to peek around a truck driving in front of us, seeing if we can safely overtake it or if we should wait.”

Waymo has created one of the world’s first imaging radar systems, providing higher resolution, range and field of view.

Jeyachandran said, “While traditional automotive radars are capable of tracking moving objects, our new imaging radar has higher resolution and enhanced signal processing capabilities that allow it to better detect and track objects that are moving, barely moving, or stopped.”

Costs of the sensors are also a major focus, with Jeyachandran writing, “With our fifth-generation hardware, we’ve simplified the design and manufacturing process so it can be production-ready, and our latest sensors deliver more performance than ever before, at half the cost of our previous generation.”

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