In March, a small group of our colleagues set out to Sweden with three test vehicles to undertake a test drive with the ibeoNEXT solid-state lidar in winter conditions, such as ice, snow, and dense-fog. The route led them from Hamburg via Denmark to just south of the Arctic Circle. The main objectives were testing the sensor’s limits in terms of performance and robustness as well as collecting as much data as possible throughout the process at various times of day and in differing weather conditions. When they returned to Hamburg nine days later, the team had amassed a total of 15000 km, 100 hours or 4.7 terabytes of data, and had undertaken more than 50 stops along the way for specific test scenarios.
The trip was split up into multiple stages. It took the group three days to get to their destination in Lulea. There, they spent another three days in the region and even drove up to the Arctic Circle. The journey back to Hamburg then took another three days. The team sums up the test as follows: "It was the first winter test with the ibeoNEXT in the northern part of Sweden and it was a success. We used the time efficiently and collected lots of data, gaining experience with the ibeoNEXT on snow-covered roads during the three days at the Arctic Circle. Thanks to the good preparation of the winter test team, the trip went smoothly so that we could concentrate on the data acquisition itself.”
One major focus was on the sensor’s integrated heating and cleaning system. To determine the degree of heating and cleaning that is beneficial to its performance, the test cars followed each other in close proximity on wet and snowy roads, simulating clouds of spray being thrown up and settling onto the sensor’s glass cover. During other test scenarios, the heating system of ibeoNEXT ran at full capacity for long periods of time and at high speeds to test the limits of the sensor’s robustness. All of the experiences made during the trip will flow into the development of ibeoNEXT and will also benefit future lidar generations.
Currently, the team in Hamburg is analyzing the vast amount of data collected. It can already be concluded that they were able to characterize the sensor’s heating and cleaning performance successfully – one of the central goals of the entire operation. Additionally, they gained valuable insights into the performance of ibeoNEXT in exceptional circumstances, which will ensure the sensor’s functionality not only in a test scenario, but in real life situations once series production has started. All in all, Ibeo took a huge step towards the start of series production with the conclusion of such an essential project.
One of the attendees, Tobias Rybka looks back positively on the endeavor: “Personally, I really enjoyed the positive mood among everyone, which kept us motivated to get as much out of these days as possible. Unfortunately, some colleagues could not take part in Sweden, but actively contributed to the success. I think the whole team is grateful for their work, which ensured an effective winter test all around.”
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Ibeo has developed a completely new, industry-wide 4D lidar sensor system. The ibeoNEXT's modular design is unique to the lidar market and, depending on the application, offers a selection of 11.2 degree, 60 degree or 120 degree optics (32 degree optics currently being developed).
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