Report: Waymo to share self-driving car data with researchers

Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet, is now making some of the high-resolution sensor data from its autonomous vehicle fleet available to researchers. (Vjeran Pavic, The Verge)

Up to now, data collected by autonomous vehicles has been mostly a secret. But some companies have begun to release this data to researchers, the latest being Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet, according to a report on The Verge.

According to Waymo, its high-resolution dataset contains 1,000 driving segments, with each segment capturing 20 seconds of continuous driving. Those 20-second clips correspond to 200,000 frames at 10 Hz per sensor, which will allow researchers to develop their own models to track and predict the behavior of everyone from drivers to pedestrians to cyclists.

The data was collected by Waymo’s fleet from San Francisco; Mountain View, California; Phoenix; and Kirkland, Washington. It includes images captured by each vehicle’s sensors, which includes LiDAR, cameras, and radar. Those images with vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and signage have been carefully labeled, presenting a total of 12 million 3D labels and 1.2 million 2D labels.

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“To me, it’s a bit of a labor of love,” said Drago Anguelov, Waymo’s head of research, in a statement. “I think that also creating such a data set is a lot of work. And it takes many months to label the data, ensure that all the relevant parts are to the highest standards that one expects, making sure that the right utilities are available for researchers to be able to make progress without being hamstrung.”

According to The Verge article, Waymo is joining several companies who have released autonomous vehicle data. Others include Aptiv, Uber, Cruise, and Argo AI .

Waymo also claims its dataset is more detailed and nuanced than those released by other companies. Most of the previous datasets have been limited to camera data. Aptiv’s NuScenes dataset included LiDAR and radar data in addition to camera images. Waymo collects data from five of its own proprietary LiDARs, as well as five standard cameras that face front and to the sides, providing a 360-degree view captured in high resolution. The data set also includes synchronization to fuse LiDAR and imaging data. Objects, including vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and signage are all labeled.

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