In automated vehicles, premium reflective glass beads can support LiDAR systems in the detection of lane markings, as the first results of a test series conducted by SWARCO Road Marking Systems reveal.
This laser-based measuring method is already built into many vehicle models, enabling on-board systems to detect the environment surrounding the vehicle, and how this is constantly changing. For such systems, lane markings that are also detected by LiDAR sensors provide crucial orientation. How reliably they are detected depends on various factors, most definitely including the kind of drop-on glass beads used.
Night has fallen on the Digitrans test center for automated driving in St. Valentin, Austria. Yet on the test track, a pair of light beams is moving along in what is referred to as the City Zone. A test vehicle is driving along a clearly defined route – it’s neither the first, nor the last time. This scenario also occurs at other times of the year in different light and weather conditions. Even during snowfall in winter, the test vehicle equipped with measuring instruments can be seen doing its laps. Why is that?
The answer is simple, yet complex: With this test series, the Center of Competence, SWARCO Road Marking Systems’ internationally connected R & D department, is researching how clearly LiDAR sensors are able to detect different markings in varying light and weather scenarios. The tests will deliver important findings, as LiDAR is a key technology for automated vehicles and driver assistance systems. The different LiDAR systems have one thing in common: They emit laser pulses and detect their reflections in the surrounding environment, such as from drop-on glass beads in road markings. In this way, the LiDAR system provides a highly precise mapping of the environment in real time and can detect other road users, obstacles and lane markings.
How well a particular lane marking is detected by the LiDAR system depends on the difference in intensity of the reflections from the lane itself and the drop-on glass beads in the marking. Here, the quality of the reflective drop-on glass beads plays a role. “We are assessing different line and area markings that were applied using the same cold-spray-plastic material, but different drop-on glass beads,” says Friedrich Wiesinger, Team Leader Product Development at SWARCO Road Marking Systems.