NODAR has released the first demonstration of its Hammerhead™ 3D vision platform, taking an important step towards truly safe, mainstream autonomous driving. NODAR Hammerhead produces high-density 3D point-clouds at ranges up to 1,000m with astonishing accuracy, eclipsing mono-camera and LiDAR performance and paving the way to L3 and higher autonomy. This includes small object detection at previously impossible ranges. In the demonstration released today, Hammerhead is used to detect and accurately measure the distance to a 10cm brick at a distance of 150m.
Reaching this milestone is groundbreaking in two key ways: 1) detecting unknown objects at 150m provides ample time to safely avoid collisions at highway speeds (4.5 seconds at 120kph/74mph) & 2) competitive solutions based on a single camera utilizing AI and inferencing may be able to detect known large objects at this range, however, many lethal obstructions will be unknown to these systems or too small, and will fail detection. NODAR’s technology measures the physical environment in real-time, providing distance data for every pixel in view, regardless of whether an object is known or unknown.
Beyond small object detection, NODAR Hammerhead delivers a new level of safety where existing solutions fall flat. Mono-camera solutions relying on deep learning to estimate depth are inherently limited by finite training sets, compute requirements, and known object ambiguity (adult vs. child can introduce range error of 50%), exposing life-threatening uncertainty. Numerous fatal and highly publicized accidents in recent years serve to emphasize the shortcomings of existing systems.