BMW is currently testing the system at its Munich manufacturing facility.
By A. Tarantola
Despite Tesla’s ambitious claims of its vehicles’ Full Self-Driving capabilities, today’s autonomous navigation technology generally tops out at Level 2. More advanced self-driving systems are in development but likely still years away from being safe and cost-effective enough for everyday use. Seoul Robotics, however, has developed a mesh network that reportedly imparts Level 5 autonomy to vehicle fleets, if only for the “last mile.”
The company’s Level 5 Control Tower system sidesteps some technical challenges of self-driving technology by embedding sensors in the surrounding infrastructure — traffic lights, nearby buildings, freeway overpasses, etc — rather than on the vehicles themselves. Instead of each vehicle looking out for itself and responding autonomously to surrounding traffic, the Level 5 Control Tower uses its meshed sensor network to collect data on the overall traffic situation and automate vehicles in the area accordingly, using V2X communications and 4/5G radios.
“Ultimately, these systems will be deployed in additional public and business settings, powering aspects of our everyday lives, such as autonomously navigated parking and public transit,” HanBin Lee, CEO of Seoul Robotics, said in a prepared statement Tuesday. Eventually the technology could find its way to a number of commercial applications from vehicle distribution centers to car rental lots.
BMW is currently trialling the system to manage fleet logistics at its manufacturing facility in Munich. That system utilizes Seoul Robotics’ SENSR software and a network of hundreds of LiDAR sensors embedded around the facility to autonomously move newly-constructed vehicles across the factory floor. Because the system has vantage points from virtually every angle, rather than the half dozen or so sensors on the vehicle itself, Control Tower can easily guide individual vehicles around blind spots and through cross traffic — even while simultaneously “driving” hundreds of other automotive drones.