NODAR Unleashes Hammerhead DevKit to Revolutionize Autonomous Systems

SOMERVILLE, MASS. – NODAR, the leading provider of advanced stereo vision technology for autonomous vehicles, announced that it is moving to accelerate the growth of the autonomous vehicle market and ensure the development of safer autonomous solutions by expanding to new markets, including last-mile delivery vehicles, trains, boats, air taxis, drones, and commercial and agricultural vehicles.

NODAR’s Hammerhead Development Kit (DevKit) enables new partners to rapidly assess and integrate its best-in-breed 3D vision technology, which already supports the ADAS and automotive markets with ultra-precise, long-range camera-based sensing. The newly-released NODAR DevKit includes the software, hardware, and tools autonomous systems developers need to leverage the benefits of NODAR’s patented Hammerhead ™ technology.

Hammerhead is an untethered stereo vision software platform that utilizes images from multiple cameras to produce high-fidelity 3D point clouds in real-time. The system is capable of detecting objects as small as 10 cm at 150 m away as well as objects at a distance of up to 1,250 m. Autonomous systems such as construction cranes, farming equipment, and air taxis will benefit from Hammerhead to perceive their environment in real-time with unparalleled range, accuracy, and precision. Hammerhead’s proprietary online calibration system delivers resilience to extreme vibration, making the system ideal for off-road, commercial, and in-air autonomous system applications.

“Every autonomous system must have the ability to ‘see’ and sense its environment in order to avoid obstacles and do path planning. In the automotive industry, 3D vision is the cornerstone of developing safer autonomous vehicles,” NODAR CEO Leaf Jiang says. “Recently, we’ve been hearing increasingly about the automation of robotic systems beyond the automotive market, and that’s very exciting for us. The DevKit we are releasing makes NODAR technology accessible across a wide variety of markets and applications of autonomy, offering the reliability of active sensing systems at the price-point of cameras.”

Demand for autonomous systems across markets is being driven by the promise of improved efficiency, safety, and economics. For instance, the [$270 billion U.S. commercial trucking market is suffering from an 80,000 driver shortage, due in part to the pandemic and substantially by the growth of eCommerce in general. Yet the cost of the driver constitutes approximately 60 percent of the overall cost to run a vehicle. While human drivers cannot legally drive more than 8 hours a day, autonomous trucks are tireless and can be run nearly 24 hours a day, improving delivery times and capacity. Further, trucking accidents account for nearly 5,000 fatalities a year in the U.S.—a number that is expected to decline dramatically as autonomous functionality comes online.

Along with trucking, the construction industry will see increased automation, particularly with cranes, which require highly trained operators who must manage a swinging hook and move dangerous materials for hours at a time. In the boating market, autonomous systems are being developed with sensors that must accommodate constant motion and a shifting horizon. Commuter trains, which travel at up to 80 miles per hour, need ultra-long-range sensing to detect potential hazards far ahead, giving the train time to stop. Last-mile delivery robots, another new market, require precise yet low-cost and low-compute 3D vision to navigate roads and sidewalks safely as they bring packages and food to consumers’ doors.

As with autonomous vehicles and trucks, NODAR’s platform benefits all of these new markets with its support for independently mounted cameras and wide baseline configurations, offering camera-based resolution, a small compute footprint and the sensing reliability of lidar. Compared with other sensor systems, the Hammerhead solution offers up to 10 times the range while free of their inherent limitations, such as the dependency on line-of-sight and the need for a physical connection to the system. With the release of the DevKit, NODAR is making its advanced 3D vision technology widely available to partners in these new markets, helping to drive the development of safer, more efficient autonomous systems.

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