‘World’s Largest’ Open Dataset for AVs Launched

University researchers in Sweden claim to have launched the world’s biggest open dataset for the development of autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous transport systems on roads, water and in the air, will be make use of the dataset created by researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, which claims to set a new standard for evaluating the algorithms of these vehicles. The researchers say that for self-driving vehicles to work, they need to interpret and understand their surroundings using cameras, LiDAR, radar and other equipment, to ‘see’ their environment.

This form of artificial perception and researchers and companies around the world have competed over which software algorithms provide the best artificial perception. To help, they use huge datasets which contain recorded sequences from traffic environments and other situations. These datasets are used to verify that the algorithms work as well as possible and that they are interpreting situations correctly.

Now the university has launched an open dataset called Reeds, in collaboration with the University of Gothenburg, Rise (Research Institutes of Sweden) and the Swedish Maritime Administration, which is now available to researchers and industry worldwide.

In order to create the most challenging conditions possible, and so increase the complexity of the software algorithms, the researchers used a boat where movements relative to the surroundings are more complex than for vehicles on land. This means that Reeds is the first marine dataset of this type.

The dataset has been developed using an advanced research boat that travels predetermined routes around western Sweden, under different weather and light conditions. The tours will continue for another three years and the dataset will thus grow over time. The boat is equipped with highly advanced cameras, laser scanners, radar, motion sensors and positioning systems, to create a comprehensive picture of the environment around the craft.

Ola Benderius, associate professor at the department of mechanics and maritime sciences at Chalmers University of Technology, hopes the dataset will represent a breakthrough for more accurate verification to increase the quality of artificial perception. Benderius said: “The goal is to set a standard for development and evaluation of tomorrow’s fully autonomous systems. With Reeds, we are creating a dataset of the highest possible quality, that offers great social benefit and safer systems.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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