Kinect sensor could help with self-driving cars in the future

By: Vamien McKalin
2 minute read

Humans never learn and that’s exactly why self-driving cars are the future for personal transportation. We have already seen several companies playing around with the idea while others have pushed far ahead as their prototype vehicles roam the streets. Despite huge technological improvements, though, self-driving cars still have big issues, issues the Microsoft Kinect could help.

According to an article from the IEEE Sensors Journal, the current crop of sensors found in self-driving cars aren’t good enough. However, it is possible the Kinect could help with those shortcomings and help cement self-driving cars into our lives forever. Apparently, the camera technology in self-driving cars today rely on stereovision, something that could become vulnerable to solar radiation contamination.

Should solar radiation contamination occur, the self-projection of light could become unreliable and as such, self-driving cars may experience errors while in transit. It could lead to injuries or even fatal accidents, something no one wants to have happen. At the moment, we’re not fully certain if researchers will go ahead with using the Kinect but at this point, why not?

An accurate method to detect obstacles and dangerous areas is the key to the safe performance of autonomous robots. Time of flight sensors can report their existence through the emission, reflection, and measurement of wave patterns, but large wavelength light projection is often unreliable in outdoors environments, due to solar radiation contamination. In this paper, a specific Microsoft Kinect arrangement on a robotic vehicle is proposed, such that outdoors detection is possible.

The concept here is solid and we hope one of the major car makers picks up on it and put it to practice. This would be a boon for Microsoft as well because the company would have more legitimate reasons to continue making Kinect sensors. At the moment, the technology is not being put to good use.

Editor’s Note For more news on self-driving cars, we invite you to check out www.sdcarnews.com, a site we’re setting up covering the emerging market of autonomous driving.

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