A Mercedes-Benz S-Class was recently spotted sporting a 3D mapping device on its roof. According to Jalopnik, the gizmo is a LIDAR array.
Based on the website of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. The device consists of a laser, scanner and GPS receiver. It functions by releasing light in a form of a pulsing laser to measure the source’s distances from objects. It combines the information it collects from the other data gathered by aerial sources to cover long distances.
The device is most probably a part of the brand’s research in the development of self-driving cars because it allows the car to get a wide range of data over its surroundings. The tech portal Gizmodo said it could get a million reading per second, map out objects down to the inch, and even predict traffic patterns.
It should be noted that Mercedes already has navigation and driving assistance systems in place to let its latest cars detect and react accordingly when there are obstacles in its immediate surroundings. With the LIDAR technology, a more precise mapping of its car’s vicinity can be achieved, and the driver assistance features of its cars can be further enhanced. Most importantly, it will help speed up their development of fully-autonomous cars.
Check out this video demo an idea of how a LIDAR system sees the world: