Data Science Investment Counter —Funding raised by UK data science companies in 2018.
£ 5.640 Million

Startup Wayvo says self-driving cars don’t need sensors but just AI

Cambridge-based startup Wayve has tested a new self-driving system that only relies on cameras, GPS tracker, and an artificial intelligence-powered computer to navigate the roads.

Traditional self-driving cars need lidar, custom rules and highly detailed maps to know exactly where to go. Wayve’s new system, however, which is embedded in a modified Renault Twizy, does not have any previous real training on the road and when tested on the streets on Cambridge, was only running on 20 hours of computer training data.

When the car started, Wayve claims,  it did not know to drive on the left side of the road or to slow down at intersections where it didn’t have the right of way. The car would have learned to drive through imitation and reinforcement, using computer vision to follow the intended route. 

Wayve’s test saw the car driving around at low speeds in relatively light traffic. It did manage some complicated scenarios, but a human occupant had to eventually take over to park the vehicle. 

In a blog post about its human-driven method, the company said last week it knows its system takes a different and slower approach: “With each safety-driver intervention, our system learns and will improve, rather than buckle with scale. It will take us longer to reach our first deployment, but we are riding a fundamentally different curve.”

However, experts who specialise in sensing technologies such as light-based LiDAR and radar say the idea could drastically reduce the safety of self-driving cars.

“You may only use LiDAR 5 per cent of the time in certain situations if radar fails or is incomplete,” but you still want it for those instances, Leilei Shinohara, vice president of R&D at RoboSense told Mashable. If a random scenario like a paint truck spilling paint all over a self-driving car happens, for example, cameras and LiDAR sensors might be blocked, but radio-wave sensing radar system will take over.

While the technology is not going to be officially deployed on UK roads any soon, and its efficiency has yet to be fully tested, the new experiment by Wayvo offers a new alternative to traditional self-driving systems.

Featured image via Mocho/Pixabay.


Co-working space and blog dedicated to all things data science.

Subscribe to our newsletter