Who needs lidar when you’ve got ground-penetrating radar?
There’s a potential problem when you use lidar for mapping geography that autonomous vehicles will use to find their way: Scenes change, landmarks can move, lanes sometimes aren’t marked well, and weather events like dust storms can wreak havoc on lidar returns. A company called WaveSense says ground-penetrating radar is a better alternative to lidar for mapping because geological features don’t change with the weather. WaveSense commercialized MIT Lincoln Lab technology developed for military vehicles deployed in Afghanistan, where the wide-band VHF radar measurements were matched with maps of subterranean geology to keep nine-ton military vehicles on track despite unmarked roads and dust storms. The commercial version uses a five-foot-wide radar beam to do the initial mapping, then vehicles look at a two-foot-wide swath to stay on track. WaveSense uses commercial radar sensors for its system. It’s IP is in the algorithms used for the tracking.