AEye: Making infrastructure smarter in Japan and around the globe
AEye recently participated in Transportation Infrastructure Equipment, a leading conference in Tokyo on all the latest technology for construction, rail, bus, and smart cities. We sat down with AEye’s GM of Industrial, Brent Blanchard, who was present at the show, to discuss his thoughts on the Japanese ITS market.
Tell us about the ITS market and needs in Japan.
BB: Japan is a densely populated country with a significant aging population, and while it is technologically advanced, there is still a great need for digitizing some existing systems. The country is also heavily invested in its Society 5.0 vision, a sustainable, inclusive socio-economic system, powered by digital technologies such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. This makes Japan primed for smart city initiatives, and lidar is imperative to the smart infrastructure and connected city of tomorrow – ensuring higher levels of safety.
What are the differences between the ITS markets in North America and Japan?
BB: There are a lot of similarities across the regions, with both prioritizing safety. However, Japan has a focus on improving the quality of life for its aging population. This translates into ITS investments aimed at building the foundational infrastructure for a fully autonomous future. There is significant interest in putting intelligence into existing infrastructure (roads, intersections, and parking lots) so that vehicles can use the data to support autonomous vehicles, as well as improving safety.
Meanwhile, the US is primarily focused on addressing the safety of vulnerable road users (pedestrians or cyclists that could be struck by a vehicle), passenger safety, and increasing traffic throughput, through means such as vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication, where the vehicle sends pertinent data, such as speed and route, to nearby smart infrastructure applications to improve traffic flow.
What the two markets have in common is that Intelligent Transportation Systems have become a necessity in urban planning, requiring sensors that can provide the best data quality at the highest level of accuracy in all weather conditions and at all times of day.
Tell us why AEye’s 4Sight™ Intelligent Sensing Platform is an ideal solution for ITS applications.
Traditional lidar is static on how it scans a scene, limiting its ability to capture critical data and adjust to changing conditions.
AEye’s 4Sight software-definable lidar is adaptive, meaning, it is intelligent and able to identify and focus on what matters most, allowing for faster, more reliable perception. This is critical for ITS use cases like signaling to a vehicle when it’s safe to proceed, or improving traffic flow through intersections and city streets, or minimizing revenue leakage from non-detected tolls. It will be key to helping authorities respond faster, reduce cost of operations, predict conditions and be more preventive with safety measures – all advancing Society 5.0.
4Sight can be optimized for a specific environment and can focus on Regions of Interest at a longer range, sample scenes at a higher frequency, and provide more accurate, reliable data. 4Sight lidar can effectively detect objects and make distinctions between them, such as identifying a bicycle versus a pedestrian, even in varying weather conditions, providing an extra level of safety currently not available with just cameras and radars.
But not only is 4Sight optimized to address the complex needs of ITS use cases, it’s designed to complement cameras and radars in existing applications so municipalities can modernize their solutions without investing in new equipment or infrastructure.
How does AEye’s solution help transportation authorities plan for the future?
BB: AEye’s adaptive lidar serves many different applications and also optimizes for them. As new enhancements and features become available, AEye can update its sensors over the air through software without needing to replace any hardware. That is an invaluable capability for ITS applications, which typically require very large investments in infrastructure.
In addition, we have designed reliability into our 4Sight sensors. It’s built on 1550nm, solid-state lidar that is able to withstand sustained vibration of over 3G, making it ideal for ITS applications that need their sensors to perform for many years to come.
AEye’s lidar can enable safety and better quality of life by providing a variety of autonomous solutions for smart infrastructure. Japan is all about tailoring technology to address its specific needs, and AEye’s technology is uniquely positioned to provide that optimization.
Any closing thoughts?
BB: I look forward to seeing these themes play out at ITS World Congress, September 18-22 in Los Angeles, where AEye will have live demonstrations of our 4Sight adaptive lidar at our booth, showcasing our platform’s versatility, and how we can cost-effectively improve performance, reliability and safety in any situation, with any requirement, and for any ITS application, globally.