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LiDAR system will cut cost of delivery robots

Cainiao and Robosense unveils autonomous delivery vehicle with new cost-effective LIDAR scanners

The G Plus driverless vehicle uses a new solid-state LIDAR that is much more cost-effective than traditional laser navigation devices.
The G Plus driverless vehicle uses a new solid-state LIDAR that is much more cost-effective than traditional laser navigation devices.

A new autonomous delivery vehicle, guided by solid-state LIDAR technology, could cut the cost of robotic delivery systems to a few hundred dollars.

Logistics technology company Cainiao Network, part of Alibaba Group, and LIDAR specialist Robosense have announced a new G Plus driverless delivery vehicle which utilises solid-state LIDAR for the first time to drastically reducing the cost of the driverless vehicles.

The Cainiao G Plus is equipped with three RS LIDAR M1Pres detectors, two on the front and one on the rear. The sensors provide a 3D perception of the driving environment. This allows unmanned delivery vehicles to clearly see the direction of travel, including the shape, distance, azimuth, travel speed, and direction of travel of pedestrians, cars, trucks, and other obstacles, as well as the exact areas on which roads can be driven, etc., to ensure the smooth flow of unmanned logistics vehicles in a complex road environment.

The Robosense MEMS LIDAR system utilises a MEMS micro mirror scanning which requires only a few laser emitters and receivers to scan through the MEMS micro-mirror in both directions. Traditional systems have used hundreds of lasers to achieve the same effect. The two Chinese companies say that this new technology, combined with miniaturisation of the scanning units, means that material and human costs are greatly reduced while reliability and stability is increased. This means that units can be produced for a few hundred dollars.

The vehicles can be mass-produced, allowing the rapid expansion of unmanned logistics vehicles and streamlining mass market delivery logistics, for the rapid popularization of the vehicles. The unmanned cars and trucks can also be equipped with different smart devices according to demand, turning the vehicle into a courier vehicle, a mobile self-pickup station, a mobile coffee vending cart, etc., which can be applied to various new retail scenarios.

"The LiDAR is an indispensable sensor for advanced autonomous driving above L3, and on this, industry has reached a consensus. The solid-state laser has the advantages of high stability, high resolution, and low cost, and it can well meet the demand for OEMs," said Mark Qiu, Co-founder and COO of RoboSense.

"Reducing logistics costs and improving logistics efficiency is the mission of autonomous driving technology in the logistics industry. Alibaba and RoboSense both agree with this direction and we hope to increase our strengths jointly to promote mass production of unmanned logistics vehicles and put them into operation so that everyone from the community can benefit as soon as possible."