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Why are sensor calibrations needed for autonomous vehicles?

May 27, 2022

Discover what sensor calibration for autonomous vehicles is all about. Get to know the various forms of sensor calibration as well as understand their benefits.

What is Sensor Calibration ?

It is the process where a sensor is adjusted, as accurately or error free as possible. With this , errors that occur through sensors are measured. 

What is an autonomous vehicle?

It is a vehicle that drives itself from a particular location to an already determined destination. It uses various technologies including GPS and adaptive cruise control. 

What are the types of autonomous vehicles?

Driver Assistance (Level 1)

These vehicles and their operations are controlled by the drivers,but include features such as backup camera, blind and lane departure warning which assist the drivers. The car controls either the steering or speed of the car, but not both at once. 

Partial Automation (Level 2)

Drivers must monitor the system at all times and be able to take over control at any time. They can accelerate and brake on certain occasions.Drivers of partial automation vehicles need to respond to traffic signals,scan for hazards and also manoeuvre tactfully. An example is Cadilla's Super Cruise. Drivers can also choose when to take control of the car. Also,two or more controls can be simultaneously automated. 

Conditional Automation (Level 3)

They have the capacity to make informed decisions based on prevailing environmental factors. However, the driver needs to remain alert to take control in case the vehicle is unable perform the needed task of the moment. In such cases, the vehicle signals the driver to intervene in a situation it cannot navigate. An example of such a vehicle is the 2019 Audi A8.

High Automation (Level 4)

Human input is not very much required for the steering wheel and pedals unless under certain conditions such as bad weather. High automation vehicles have the capacity to intervene when things go wrong. They are however limited by infrastructural and legal frameworks. An example is NAYVA, which are electric powered shuttles and taxis in the US. They  run at a maximum of 55mph.

Full Automation

Full automation vehicles require no drivers. These vehicles are currently undergoing testing. They need no pedals or steering wheels and can operate under any condition and on any road. The only needed requirement is to key in details of the destination. They are however not yet available for the public.

What is sensor calibration for autonomous vehicles? 

What is a sensor ?

It is an electronic device responsible for monitoring various parts of the vehicle. It sends information to the driver or the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) on critical conditions like vehicle temperature,speed and emission levels for automatic adjustments. 

Sensor calibration notifies the automated vehicle about the positioning of its sensors with a high accuracy level.

Methods of sensors calibration

Lidar- Camera Calibration

It converts data from a lidar sensor and a camera into one coordinating system. There is a fusion from both sensors to accurately identify images in a scene.

Camera

Since camera images are not perfect,computer vision is used to eliminate distortions. Images close to road edges easily skew or stretch in different dimensions. There is also the use of  Perspective Transform. Here,an object appears tinier than its original size, the farther it is away from the camera. It gives a bird's eye view and allows different angular viewings. It also gives room to match the direct location of a car right from the map. 

Thermal camera

They are suitable for driving at night and through fog. They detect objects with little use of light infrared emissions. They also distinguish between living and non-living beings.

Inertial Measurement Unit 

It gives precise information on the current and starting location as well as orientation of a vehicle. It requires no external information to function. Made up of accelerator and  gyroscope. Accelerator text lineal measurements well gyroscope takes rotational acceleration measurements. 

Radar

They detect the distance of objects as well as their speed in relation to the vehicle. Short range raiders permit lane-keeping assistance and parking aids. Long range radars can execute automatic brakes and distance control assistance.

Global Navigation Satellite System( GNSS)

I'mIt is a technology that enables vehicles to stay in their designated lanes or safely away from other vehicles. It provides the correction service vehicles need for positioning and sensor integration.

Ultrasonic sensor

It is used to complement other sensors, to have a clear understanding of the immediate environment of the vehicle. They can work perfectly in bad weather and see through other sensors. 

Advantages of sensors calibration 

Through the use of the various sensors, the safety of vehicles,drivers and passengers are ensured. It is widely known that most vehicle crashes are caused by human error.

Sensor calibration enables vehicles to have mutual communication. It decreases the possibility of danger on the road. For example, vehicles can use cruise control to space out from one another

Sensor calibration is environmentally friendly as most calibration systems are more efficient with electric vehicles.

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