Cepton, TE Connectivity, ALP. Lab boost Periscope V2X with lidar for AV safety

Three self-driving tech innovators are working together on Periscope, a proof-of-concept integrated system that uses lidar sensors mounted at intersections to peer around the corner to warn drivers of approaching pedestrians about five seconds sooner than they would normally be seen.

The goal is greater safety at intersections and other potential blind spots, one of the main purposes of V2X (Vehicle to Everything) technology that multiple companies are bringing to market in coming years. More than 6,500 pedestrians were killed in US traffic accidents in 2020, according to NHTSA data.

In the case of Periscope, Silicon Valley lidar innovator Cepton is working with ALP. Lab GmbH of Austria and TE Connectivity. ALP.Lab provides autonomous vehicle testing technology and TE Connectivity is a maker of sensors and connectors used by companies in 140 countries.

The proof-of-concept has confirmed the ability of an integrated system to warn drivers of unseen hazards in the road, the companies said.They tested a Periscope scenario where a pedestrian hidden from view by a driver around the corner started to cross a roadway and stepped into the vehicle lane. The driver got a warning of the approaching pedestrian five seconds before the pedestrian appeared in the driver’s field of view.

picture of box with sensors on pole next to inset
Two Cepton lidar sensors on a pole were used with V2X to tell a driver of a hidden pedestrian (Cepton)

“High resolution 3D sensing capabilities of Cepton lidars allowed us to generate smart analytics of the situation while the V2X system by TE Connectivity enabled real-time communications to the vehicle, making it possible to drive an intelligent decision before it was too late,” said Christoph Knauder at ALP.Lab in a statement. “We believe Periscope has proven the safety potential of smart infrastructure in the future of autonomous mobility.” 

The group plans more testing in more use cases, he added.  Also, quantitative testing is planned to confirm the initial finding.

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are now being introduced with enhancements using sensors and software in new vehicles from Tesla, Ford, GM and many others, which may help reduce vehicle crashes with bicyclists, pedestrians and e-scooters. V2X is intended to enhance those abilities, extending that ADAS potential where complex road conditions and blind spots come into play.

“V2X communication will be the breakthrough technology to advance the safety of autonomous drive and intelligent future mobility,” said Ralf Klaedtke, CTO for transportation solutions at TE Connectivity.   V2X will “play a key role in TE’s future.”

“Through the lens of Periscope we can see that the increased connectivity between vehicles and infrastructure can keep everyone safe on the road,” added Dr. Jun Pei, Cepton’s CEO. That connectivity and the safety it offers is crucial in preparing society for ultimate adoption of fully autonomous driving, Pei added.

The proof of concept of Periscope and other such projects will vital to help advance V2X, especially as sensor companies work with carmakers and governments around the globe, including thousands of city governments that control streets, sidewalks and signals and signage at intersections and would issue permits to erect pedestals or boxes with V2X gear inside.  Cepton is already working with Koito for ADAS lidar for production use in GM vehicles and has business engagements with the top 10 global carmakers.

Cepton provides a Helius Smart Lidar System that combines lidar sensors with edge compute and perception software. TE Connectivity provides V2X hardware inside the vehicle and at the intersection allowing transmission of Collaborative Awareness Messages from ALP.Lab, giving the driver information about pedestrians as well as traffic flow, vehicle position, driving speed and more. TE also makes technology behind on-board displays to show vehicle location and potential road hazards.

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