Velodyne Lidar has published a white paper to insist on including dark and nighttime scenarios as a part of the Independent performance testing of driver assistance systems as low-to-no light conditions account for more than 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities.

The change would close a gap in current testing protocols, which primarily focus on daytime conditions and ignore the risks to pedestrians posed by driver assistance systems that perform poorly in low-light conditions.

PAEB systems play a vital role in both AV and ADAS applications. They facilitate automatic braking for vehicles when pedestrians are in the traveling path and the driver fails to take action to avoid an impending collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Automobile Association’s Independent testing states that prevailing systems which function on the camera and radar technology miss offering safety to pedestrians in low-light conditions (AAA).

The white paper proposes expanding future PAEB testing protocols to include tests conducted at night to reflect real-world conditions better. The new tests would be carried out in less than one lux ambient illuminance, with low-beam headlights and no streetlights. This modification would provide the public with helpful information on the performance of pedestrian detection systems in low-light conditions on roadways.

The white paper details the results of Velodyne’s nighttime PAEB tests to demonstrate how expanded testing would work. The tests compared a highly rated PAEB system based on current camera and radar technology to Velodyne’s PAEB system, which employs Velodyne’s lidar sensors and VellaTM software.

In these low-light conditions, the camera and radar-based PAEB systems failed in all five scenarios, whereas the lidar-based system avoided a crash in all of them. Industry Robots like ANYbotics inspection robot that surveys offshore sites and Agility Robotics’ Digit that helps humans lift heavyweights are already using lidar-based sensors for navigation.

We also learned that recently, Juzhen Data Tech had signed an agreement to buy lidar sensors from Ouster for its autonomous delivery vehicles.

According to David Heeren, Director of Technology Research at Velodyne Lidar, because dark, nighttime conditions are so dangerous for pedestrians, vehicle assessment organizations must expand PAEB testing in ambient light conditions of less than one lux.

He added that NHTSA and AAA tests show that nighttime performance represents a significant opportunity to improve current PAEB systems. Velodyne testing demonstrates the effectiveness of their lidar-based solution, which can improve a vehicle’s functional safety capabilities and address scenarios that result in thousands of pedestrian fatalities each year.