Elon Musk is Wrong about LiDAR Technology

by Alex Noah — 4 years ago in Review 4 min. read

Before this season, at one of Tesla’s occasions, the organization’s renowned creator, Elon Musk proclaimed that, “LiDAR is a fool’s errand,” and”Anyone relying upon LiDAR is doomed. Doomed.”

We are all huge fans of Elon in my organization and we have even appointed one of our seminar rooms Falcon 9, following the reusable SpaceX rocket that impressed the entire world by landing downhill after separation. So, when Elon talks, we hear. But over the course of the year, we have had the opportunity to find out more about using LiDAR for indoor software than any other business on Earth, and we wholeheartedly disagree.

Musk was speaking to the automotive industry’s use of LiDAR for innovative driver assistance systems in autonomous vehicles. But, instead of radically ringing the death knell for LiDAR, his remarks only highlight the fact that LiDAR comes with an awareness problem, no pun intended.

Broadly, few men and women appear to fully appreciate exactly what the technology is capable of, or how it’s used now, and less the benefits that LiDAR provides for opening a universe of possibilities. But before investigating these, a succinct introduction to LiDAR will be of help to the uninitiated.

Related: – Elon Musk – 9 Times Tesla’s CEO Stunned Us

What on earth is LiDAR?

LiDAR, that stands for light detection and ranging, is a technology which utilizes secure, imperceptible laser beam pulses to discover objects both in movement and at rest. Each pulse travels through its surroundings, bouncing off objects and returning into detectors that make an electronic “3D point cloud” of their surroundings. (Picture a classic dot matrix printing outside, but in 3D, and you will find the picture.)

Then perception applications, that is where a lot of the AI magic resides, interprets this stage cloud so that you can literally view items in 3D and decide precise space, elevation, volume, rate, direction and maybe even reflectivity of objects within the field of view.

LiDAR sensors are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, with some casting numerous beams crossing a 360° circle while others shining several vibrating beams at a pixel density wealthy cone. The rapid advances in the LiDAR sensors and perception applications has been extremely exciting to see and the race has only just started.

Advancing beyond its present zone of autonomous vehicles along with other more conventional software in the agriculture and geology industries, we view LiDAR rapidly moving to serve an assortment of programs in the broadly defined clever globe.

For example, LiDAR’s very short wavelength makes it possible for researchers to discover air pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and methane and execute significant density mapping in this time of climate change.

Furthermore, engineers in addition to interior designers are using LiDAR to exactly measure and rebuild the building spaces they are working on. The Notre Dame cathedral was precisely mapped with LiDAR that even despite the calamity of the spring’s passion architects and civil engineers are extremely confident they are able to correctly reconstruct Notre Dame’s roof and spire, due to LiDAR.

Another special program has also emerged. Air travel continues to be flying large since rebounding after the 2008 downturn. Airports like the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have noticed yearly passenger counts rise by 60 percent since 2009.

For LAX which will indicate handling almost 90 million passengers from 2019, up from 56 million in 2009. Dealing with 34 million passengers inside the exact same physical infrastructure necessitates better tools for operational comprehension and efficacy. Input LiDAR.

Airports from Indianapolis to Miami, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Jackson, Miss., and Salt Lake City have set up LiDAR-based indoor movement analytics options to better handle security checkpoints and enhance passenger flow throughout their concourses.

Joining true passenger foot traffic information using strong movement analytics airports are now able to maintain passengers upgraded on anticipated wait-times, letting them better plan their departure from home or even the workplace. And airports, working in partnership with TSA, Can use this exact same set of information analytics to provide increasingly efficient procedures, expect bottlenecks and reallocate resources to efficiently process an increasing tide of travelers. The advantages of flow and queue control options go beyond enhancing operational performance.

Research have shown that richer airports can offer a better travel experience for passengers, and also that more fulfilled passengers spend longer in airport retail stores. And, by creating a better feeling of passenger flow inside terminals and concourses, airports can increase non-aeronautical earnings by better placement retail shops and display advertisements.

Needless to say, placing this kind of technology to operate in public surroundings such as an airport increases the dilemma of security and the security of personal identification. This is the area where LiDAR stands out from other options like cameras. Rather than shooting a pixelated passenger picture like the one a stereoscopic camera makes on a tv display, LiDAR converts positional information into anonymous 3D point cloud information, entirely protecting airport passenger identities.

Related: – Elon Musk Said: Artificial Intelligence Would Be ‘Seriously Dangerous’ by 2019. Reality or Illusion?

Is LiDAR just a fad?

Many, such as Musk, consider that AI-powered cameras may progress to the point at which they leave LiDAR obsolete, which LiDAR is used merely as a”crutch” in the meantime. But, there’ll always be a demand for LiDAR since it’s only more discreet than the usual camera — and it works extremely well.

Again, unlike stereoscopic cameras, that need perfect lighting requirements, have a narrow field of view and also function best in high-ceiling surroundings, LiDAR sensors can function in much more challenging lighting requirements, across all ceiling heights, and their accuracy isn’t affected by sun through windows or from poor lighting requirements. Additionally, cloud computing and large data processing is progressing as fast as AI-powered camera technologies — thus LiDAR will get considerably more sophisticated too.

Using a growing ecosystem of LiDAR alternative providers, ever advancing, smaller, less costly, and strong detectors, the technologies will just get better and better. There’ll be brighter, more intuitive, understanding applications that will apply comparable AI capacities of picture analysis, only without breaking passenger solitude.

While Elon Musk includes a fantastic vision for its future, I am guessing he might not be viewing the entire picture in regards to LiDAR, and so is lacking that LiDAR can do, and will perform in an increasingly bright future since it solves a range of everyday challenges.

In accordance with venture capital analyst company CB Insights, startups working with LiDAR have increased $1.2 billion USD in the previous five decades. Not all of the money is going to be committed to the growth of autonomous vehicles. No, it will also be utilized to make safety lines shorter, create video games more precise, attract new asynchronous sites to mild, and much, much more. LiDAR is not doomed. It is only now hitting its stride.

Alex Noah

Alex is senior editor of The Next Tech. He studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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