MIT Tech Could Allow Self-Driving Cars to See Through Fog

As seen in the recent Uber vs, pedestrian incident in Tempe, Arizona, the systems currently in use on self-driving vehicles do not give cars accurate information about their surroundings at all times.
Special camera resolves images in fog 1 photo
Photo: Youtube screenshot/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Currently, most systems used in autonomous cars are radar-based. Camera-based systems, although preferable thanks to their ability to read road signs, are momentarily not so wide-spread, mainly due to the fact that they become useless during fog.

But, thanks to researchers from MIT, cameras could get the power they need to peer through the mist. The leader of the research, Guy Satat, conducted an experiment with the new technology and found that it could eventually work.

The experiment consisted a special camera and human-made fog, achieved with the help of a tank of water stirred to oblivion by a vibrating motor scavenged from a humidifier. The resulting spray of water was enough to get the experiment going.

The yet undisclosed technology used by the team managed to resolve images of objects at a range of 57 cm (1.8 feet), compared to the 36 cm (1.1 feet) achieved by the naked human eye.

Since the fog produced indoor was much denser than the one typically encountered on roads, that range would equate to visibility for the camera of between 30 to 50 meters (98 to 164 feet).

“I decided to take on the challenge of developing a system that can see through actual fog,” said Guy Satat according to MIT News.

“We’re dealing with realistic fog, which is dense, dynamic, and heterogeneous. It is constantly moving and changing, with patches of denser or less-dense fog. Other methods are not designed to cope with such realistic scenarios.”

The research is currently still in its infancy. The team plans to present their findings at the International Conference on Computational Photography in May.

Below is a video showing the principles of the system designed by the MIT team.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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