Yesterday, the sudden torrential rain brought an unexpected episode to the annual American CES event. Some of the exhibition halls lost electric power to almost two hours, visitors evacuated, and the Google bbooth that just made its debut was forced to shut down due to flood. This unexpected heavy rain not only invaded las Vegas, but also became a headline in the news and outraged everyone’s social media. While the sudden shutdown of power in the exhibition hall affected more than hundreds of companies, bad weather posed challenges to this conference’s favorite, autonomous driving companies and automobiles manufacturers.
It is understood that the heavy rain directly suspended most of the autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas, and only a few manufacturers can make small-scale demonstrations on pre-set short-distance routes. However, in this complex but incomparably real-world environment, PlusAI's self-driving vehicles, armed with strong "Chinese lineage," became a dark horse. Not only in the city, but also on the rainy highway, it can drive smoothly at 95 km/hr, which fully demonstrating the reliability of its advanced AI-based deep learning solution. It has performed well in various scenarios such as corners, ups and downs, undivided sections, night sections, and congested sections.
Desert Storm + High-speed Driving, Dual Challenge
Heavy rain in the desert + high speed driving is a complex driving scene in real life. So what are the technical challenges for driverless vehicle manufacturers?
The weather of casino city Las Vegas belongs to desert climate, with very little rain during the year. Previously it has been 116 days without any rainfall. The desert gives more dust. For most manufacturers, it is very difficult to collect data in the desert under the heavy rain conditions. Without data, there is no confidence to drive. It is understood that many autonomous vehicles rely on high-precision maps to drive. For this CES, many manufacturers even arrived at the casino several weeks in advance to scan the map for preparation in advance.
At the same time, on rainy days, vehicles drive at low speed in urban areas and require less visibility. But on the highways, it requires to have spot farther visual distance to achieve to achieve early response and aviolance. In the harsh climate such as rain, fog, and snow, the autonomous driving on highways also requires a higher ability to identify parallel vehicles simultaneously, not only to clearly identify road conditions, but also to discern other vehicles’ movings trajectory and positions, in order to better ensure the accuracy of predicted behaviors and to achieve road safety.
Experts from PlusAI revealed that PlusAI’s driverless car did not arrived at Las Vegas til the day before the show and suffered a torrential rain with zero preparation, but it had successfully passed the exam with excellent results. There are two main reasons behind this. First, PlusAI, with its unique technological solution, can perform real-time data acquisition and processing in resemblance to humans through artificial intelligence deep learning algorithms. It has excellent capabilities to summarize, learn and adapt into new sceneries, with little reliance on pre-collected map data. In addition, PlusAI has advanced sensor technology that enables accurate visual identification and positioning even in complex environments. Thanks to its unique technological advantages, PlusAI's driverless vehicle can smoothly maneuver speed up to 95 km per hour even without using high-precision maps in particularly complex environment. The car also has distinguished performance in different real-world highway scenes such as turns, up and down slopes, no partition zones, night driving, and congested roads.
Shifting towards commercialization, Made-in-China reveals its power
Today, the CES Consumer Electronics Show held in January annually seems to be a car event that rivals the Detroit North American International Auto Show next week. According to the organizers, this year's CES automotive technology exhibition area has increased by nearly 25%, and the number of related companies has reached 172. Driverless cars are exciting, but the industry is facing the challenge of how to turn from displaying technology to showing real application scenarios and commercialization.
PlusAI is an innovative company from Silicon Valley. Since the beginning of 2017, it has obtained a California license for testing autonomous driving (Uber is also licensed on the same day), and this test vehicle has traveled nearly 10,000 kilometers on public roads and highways. Born in Silicon Valley, PlusAI has a strong "Chinese lineage." The founder team is mostly Chinese, including a member of the national "Thousand Talents Program" and former executives of Yahoo, Tencent, Bosch, HERE map and Velodyne. In addition to offices in the US., there are also PlusAI R&D personnel in Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an. This company combines the innovative culture and technological environment of Silicon Valley with the vigorous market momentum in China, and has assembled the world’s top experts in artificial intelligence and deep learning.
For this year’s CES, PlusAI's test car made a special trip from the Bay Area to Las Vegas. In a distance that’s over 850 kilometers, autonomous driving completes the vast majority (more than 99%) at high speed. It is worth mentioning that during the period, the maximum speed on the expressway reached 120-130 km/h, which makes it one of the fastest driverless vehicles in present days, and the experience is excellent. In contrast, the vast majority of autonomous driving still performs and displays at low speed within the closed areas and sometimes static exhibitions at the exhibition halls. PlusAI's innovative action indicates that we are getting very close to the industrialization and full manufacturing of autonomous cars.
PlusAI's technical staff said that the car already has L3 level of automatic driving capability. The company focuses on expanding the scope of application of the solution, reducing costs, preparing for the recent volume production. On the other hand, the company is implementing an L4-level fully autonomous driving that includes mapping, sensing based on deep learning, path planning and control. The future we are looking forward to is getting closer.
Plus AI wants to do more than just inventing technology, but also it hopes to promote the application of autonomous/unmanned driving in different scenarios through a set of solution that can be immediately applied and commercialized. At present, PlusAI has launched a self-developed smart sensor product that provides a robust, secure and stable L2-L3 technology/product integration solution for different smart driving scenarios and OEMs. It also has outstanding advantages in terms of cost/performance indicators and commercialization. At the same time, PlusAI has the PlusPilot, a proprietary smart driving system that rivals with top-of-the-range solutions in the market for L3 level autopilot.
At present, driverless driving has caused a new round of domestic and international competition for scientific and technological innovation along with industrial progress. Entering the wishful period before the industry becomes oversaturated, the market is having a large number of new technologies, new products, and new services. Let’s wait and see.