back to article Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, muaha... Boffins build laser-eyed intelligent cam that sorta sees around corners

Artificial intelligence with frickin' lasers beams attached can see objects hidden around corners, according to a study published in the journal Optica on Thursday. Academics, led by boffins at the Stanford University, hope the technology will allow self-driving cars to spot potential hazards, such as pedestrians crossing at …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jeremy Bentham

    Will be spinning in his glass cabinet.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Jeremy Bentham

      Presumably because some bloody students have put him on a turntable.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the researchers believe their technique is promising"

    Of course they do, they need the funding. I, however, am very doubtful that this can, one day, be used to help self-driving cars navigate the crowded streets of New York. I doubt very much that their laser will even be able to hit the wall and, if it does, it certainly won't be able to reflect anything back to the vehicle's detectors.

    Besides, given that you have to get the angle just right, I don't see this working at all outside laboratory conditions.

    For this tech to actually work, statistical analysis machines need to progress and miniaturize to the point where each vehicle has its own. I don't see that happening any time soon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: be used to help self-driving cars

      more like, help hitting self-driving cars

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: "the researchers believe their technique is promising"

      Since their model assumes the wave nature of light to work then it can be used for any other wavelength such as microwaves or radar or lidar or whatever similar sort of system vehicles are equipped with.

      This is a proof of principle which means the deep learning system can be used with non laser wavelengths.

      I’m a mere ‘stamp collector’ but as a scientist I can also see this from designing and analysis other experiments. Us Biologists use model systems from slime molds to mammals to gain insights into how our cells, tissues, organs and bodies function using the same proof of principle.

      You have to be careful of it though. For eg just because you can get cells in tissue culture (immortalised cell lines are in effect cancer cells) to do something is not a priori evidence that normal cells in bodies do it. So whenever I see such papers I reserve judgement unless and until it is proven to happen in vivo (I’m an organismal biologist so to me in vivo means in an animal, biochemists and molecular biologists have different definitions).

  3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Terminator

    I, for one...

    Welcome our new laser eyed robot overlords.

    (I'm just going to go back to digging out a bunker in my basement now just in case)

  4. Chris G Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Super black

    As soon as skynet becomes self aware, just spray all of our cities with super black.

    Just checking stocks on ebay and amazon.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Super black

      We should just spray all our cities with super black regardless. Especially the advertising hoardings.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Super black

      That would be vantablack, methinks...

  5. AdamT

    How powerful?

    Given the light has to reflect off 3 not-intended-to-be-reflective surfaces, how powerful does the laser have to be? I get that the detector could be very sensitive but even that seems tricky. i.e. very sensitive to the laser return but not at all bothered by e.g. sunlight. But there is still going to be several orders of magnitude of loss which suggests that the laser output could well need to be eyesight threatening ...

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: How powerful?

      Since they hope for use in self-driving cars to detect hazards, I'd suggest to spec up the laser's power to weapons-grade: nothing blocking your way and you can easily get rid of the feckin' [insert hate-car brand of your own disliking] in front of you.

      Speaking of weapons-grade, you might need nuclear fission to power the bloody thing. Where's my Ford Nucleon?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: How powerful?

      "Given the light has to reflect off 3 not-intended-to-be-reflective surfaces, how powerful does the laser have to be? I get that the detector could be very sensitive but even that seems tricky. i.e. very sensitive to the laser return but not at all bothered by e.g. sunlight. But there is still going to be several orders of magnitude of loss which suggests that the laser output could well need to be eyesight threatening ..."

      Yes, but it's an interesting first step. I remember watching Time Team and the various tools they used such as soil resistivity and ground penetrating radar evolve over the years. In those early stages the results were pretty crap, but useful. Later, better processing with faster CPUs and better algorithms massively improved the speed and quality of the results.

      I suspect the hype about AI cars seeing around corners is just that. Hype. They have something new and clever and AI based self-driving cars is a good and current hook to hang it on for the required funding.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    important applications in medical imaging, navigation, robotics and defense

    as in "the best defence is offense"

  7. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    ...but, will sharks be fitted with those?!

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Hmm! Sharks that can see round corners!

      No place to swim! No place to hide!

  8. ThatOne Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Cars, really?

    Of all the possible use cases, they chose cars?

    So, to see if a pedestrian (or car) is about to jump out from behind an obstacle, you need your car to be always preceded by a mobile wall (because the necessary reflecting surface will be missing 99.9% of the time), and your hidden pedestrians or cars have to never exceed a centimeter of size, else the system won't be able to identify them (could be a discarded soda can lying there).

    Except those minor caveats, it's all good.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Cars, really?

      But but but how can you say that when this works so great at detecting spherical cows...!

  9. badgeror

    Use for self driving car? yeah sure...

    Just a reminder for these researchers : you're never going to get the SNR needed in outdoor, daylight scenarios, for self driving car unless you want to blind any human/animal/camera in sight

    But I guess there are some military out there who whould like this tech a lot for counter-terrorism units and special ops

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Use for self driving car? yeah sure...

      > like this tech a lot for counter-terrorism units and special ops

      Against those centimeter-sized terrorists, yes...

  10. Il'Geller

    There is a clear and unambiguous definition of Artificial Intelligence:

    AI searches for, finds, and uses answers in the form of structured texts; based on their

    - explicit contexts that can be read,

    - and implicit subtexts that are implied as dictionary definitions and allusions to other texts; where an allusion is an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.

    Thus, everything is reduced to finding answers to the questions asked by computer.

    1. Mephistro Silver badge

      Shoehorning much?

      1. Il'Geller

        So my AI is parasitic on human texts.

  11. Mo64

    Surely easier to send the camera on a drone to just look around the corner & send the results back

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