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Waymo, a former Google self-driving car project, announced yesterday, that it is making one of its 3D LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors, called Laser Bear Honeycomb, available to select partners. “Offering this LIDAR to partners helps spur the growth of applications outside of self-driving cars and also propels our business forward”, states the Waymo team on Medium.

Waymo started developing its own set of sensors in 2011, including three different types of LIDARs . LIDAR refers to a remote sensing method that can track the distance using pulses of laser light. Waymo uses a medium-range LIDAR, located on top of the car. They have also developed a short-range and a long-range LIDAR. Waymo team states that these custom LIDARs are the ones that enabled Waymo to put its self-driving cars on road.

Now, Waymo is set on expanding the realm of these sensors outside of self-driving, by including Robotics, security, agricultural technology, etc. Waymo team states that their Laser Bear Honeycomb is a best-in-class perimeter sensor. It’s the same short-range sensor that is used around the bumper of Waymo’s self-driving vehicles.

Key features of Laser Bear Honeycomb LIDAR

The Laser Bear Honeycomb LIDAR by Waymo comes with an outstanding set of features including a wider field of view, multiple returns per pulse, and minimum zero range.

Wide field of view

Most of the 3D LIDARs come with a vertical field of view (FOV) of just 30°. But, the Laser Bear Honeycomb LIDAR comes with a vertical FOV of 95°, along with a 360° horizontal FOV. What this means is that one Honeycomb is capable of performing the job of three other 3D sensors.

Multiple returns per pulse

On sending out a pulse of light, Laser Bear Honeycomb can see up to four different objects in the laser beams’ line of sight. For instance, it can spot the foliage in front of a tree branch as well as the tree branch itself, giving a more detailed view of the environment in turn. It can also uncover the objects that might otherwise get missed out.

Minimum range of zero

Laser Bear Honeycomb comes with a minimum range of zero. This means it can immediately track the objects that are in front of the sensor. It also comes with other capabilities such as near object detection and avoidance.

For more information, check out the official Waymo blog post.

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