American roads have never been especially safe compared to the streets in other countries. But the pandemic made things worse, with shocking rises in crashes and deaths of both drivers and pedestrians in 2020 despite a decrease in the number of miles Americans traveled. Reducing this catastrophic casualty rate has been a goal of the autonomous vehicle industry, which often cites a (probably misleading) statistic claiming that 94 percent of all fatal crashes are due to human error.
But some of the technology companies driving the AV revolution are also interested in improving traffic infrastructure. On Wednesday, Velodyne Lidar announced that it will deploy a lidar-based traffic-monitoring system to a dangerous intersection in Austin, Texas, as part of its Intelligent Infrastructure Solution.
The system will create real-time 3D maps of roads and intersections, replacing the current combination of inductive loop detectors, cameras, and radar. Velodyne has joined Nvidia’s Metropolis program and will use Nvidia Jetson AGX Xavier edge processors to make sense of the lidar data.
Velodyne will install lidar sensors to monitor traffic, beginning with the intersection of East 7th Street and Springdale Road. Velodyne says that this location’s accident history and fatality risk, along with the prevalence of speeding and congestion, makes it an ideal place to start.
“Lidar-based solutions hold tremendous potential to protect personal identifiable information while continuing to help us achieve our Vision Zero goal to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on Austin streets. Velodyne Lidar’s Intelligent Infrastructure Solution could enable us to more efficiently collect and analyze the mobility that is needed to improve roadway efficiency and safety,” said Jason JonMichael, the assistant director of the Austin Transportation Department.