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New partnership to advance autonomous technology

Australian data innovation group, CSIRO’s Data61, has partnered with Chinese company ZongMu Technology to tackle one of the biggest issues facing autonomous vehicles.

The partnership aims to find a way to give vehicles ‘human’ sight to better detect and analyse everything from road signs, traffic conditions, avoiding pedestrians, and collisions.

Data61 and ZongMu will work with each other from the research stage through to development, with the final product available to the company’s customers in China and internationally including equipment manufacturers and partners in the mobility service industry.

The market for self-driving cars is rapidly growing and is expected to jump from US$42 billion ($54 million) in 2025 to nearly US$77 billion ($99 million) by 2035 as more organisations compete to create a truly autonomous car that can drive anywhere.

“Computer vision is the technology that allows autonomous vehicles to determine the difference between what is pavement and what is a driveable road,” said Smart Vision System Group leader, Dr Nick Barnes.

“Unlike laser sensors which rely on a series of points to identify hazards, computer vision offers richer information and a deeper understanding of road scenes through 3D image analysis, enabling safer automated driving.”

Senior Research Scientist at Data61, Dr Shaodi You, said the technology would allow autonomous vehicles to quickly react to any hazards at a distance of 10m or further to avoid collisions.

“Our technology will allow self-driving cars to more quickly detect and avoid hazards, understand and obey road rules and to determine their exact location in relation to other moving vehicles and landmarks in a given environment,” Dr You said.

“The laser sensors used by the majority of companies are prohibitively expensive.

“On the other hand, the computer vision algorithms we’re developing with ZongMu cost one-tenth the amount and will allow commercial and truly autonomous cars to reach the road in a much shorter time frame.”

ZongMu’s Chief Executive, Tang Rui, said the company was bringing cutting-edge AI-based algorithms into automotive grade computing platforms to make self-driving technology a commercial reality.

“Our self-driving technology is already being used by China’s leading car makers, but Data61’s expertise in computer vision will be imperative to our goal of bringing self-driving cars to market,” Rui said.

“We pride ourselves on providing our partners with high-level autonomous driving technology affordably and with the highest safety standards.”

Data61 CEO, Adrian Turner, said the partnership would speed up the hotly anticipated arrival of commercially viable self-driving vehicles and ultimately contribute towards seeding a new industry and ancillary services.

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