CES 2013: Velodyne LIDAR

We know Velodyne for their subwoofers, and lately, headphones. This isn’t all they do, though.

They also love robots.

Self-guided, thinking, driving, car-sized robots.

You may have heard of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA, yes, that DARPA) Grand Challenge. It’s basically a push for self-driving cars. The first was held in 2004, and Team DAD (Digital Audio Drive), finished third out of a field of highly-funded competitors. Team DAD was none other than Velodyne co-founders David and Bruce Hall. The following year, they developed and used a LIDAR system. LIDAR is an acronym for “Light Detection And Ranging” and now you’re probably starting to get what these pictures are.

How good is Velodyne’s LIDAR system? In 2007 as part of DARPA’s more difficult Urban Challenge, 5 of the 6 teams who finished used it, including the first and second place teams.

Which is the long way round to discuss the pictures you see here. At CES in a small booth at the Venetian, Velodyne had a car with their LIDAR system on top (the HDL-64E, I believe). You can see it spinning blurrily on top of the 4-point roof-rack. Here’s a better picture:

Below is what the HDL-64E “sees.” It’s a little hard to make out in low-rez, so I’ll try to describe what you’re seeing. The car is at the center of the image, front facing left. The HDL-64E is spinning at the top center of the car (you can see a white circle with line, that’s where the sensor is). The rectangular yellow-red in the lower center of the image is the curtain you see in my top image. I’m standing as part of a two-person blob off the right front fender, or just off center towards 11 o’clock. Our squiggly shapes moved in real time.

It’s a pretty awesome display of modern and future technology.

Check out more, plus some cool videos, at velodynelidar.com.