Apple plans to integrate a Lidar scanner similar to the iPhone 12 Pro / 12 Pro Max in self-driving cars. As part of the Titan project, the Cupertino company would use this sensor to allow driverless vehicles to understand their environment, even at night.
Like the iPad Pro 2020, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are equipped with a Lidar (light detection and ranging) scanner on the back. This sensor is dedicated to laser remote sensing. Concretely, the Lidar is capable of map an environment in three dimensions by calculating the time it takes for light to return to an object. Developed since the 1960s, this technology is already used in archaeological excavations or in road radars. For example, there are many Lidar radars on the roads of Belgium.
On Apple smartphones, the Lidar scanner allows above all to improve the rendering of applications that rely on augmented reality, one of the firm’s battle irons. Thanks to the presence of this sensor, objects in AR are more precisely located in space. Applications like Ikea, Pokémon Go or Snapchat for example are more efficient thanks to Lidar. Likewise, the module improves the efficiency of the default Measures application. As the name suggests, the app can measure anything with the iPhone. For example, the iPhone 12 Pro can accurately measure the height of people. “The LiDAR scanner measures the distance of objects within 5 meters ” Apple claims.
That’s not all. The presence of Lidar also allowsimprove low light photos. The scanner especially improves the focus of portrait mode when it is dark. As we told you in our iPhone 12 Pro test, this sensor is therefore very effective in the evening or at night.
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But Apple has many other ambitions for Lidar technology. According to a patent filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, the firm of Tim Cook is consideringintegrate a lidar sensor in autonomous carss. According to the diagrams published by our colleagues from Patently Apple, Apple wants to place a Lidar behind the windshield of vehicles without a driver. The Californian giant has already ordered a lidar box integrated into the windshield from XenomatiX, a European firm, and from AGC, a windshield manufacturer (see the video below).
Thanks to this sensor, self-driving cars will be able to map their environment, even in low light, in order toavoid any obstacles on the road (animals, pedestrians, signs…). Apple is not the only firm to rely on Lidar technology to develop its autonomous cars. This is also the case with Volvo. Last May, the automaker announced that it had chosen LiDAR technology to equip its cars of the future.
Either way, adding Lidar to self-driving cars should helpaccelerate the development of the Titan project. Since 2015, Apple has been working in complete secrecy on its own autonomous connected cars. According to the latest news, the firm is focusing on the development of an artificial intelligence capable of managing the driving of a vehicle without the slightest action on the part of the driver. Despite the backlog of its competitors, including Tesla, Apple continues to progress tirelessly.
Source: Patently Apple