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Sophisticated sensor technology can be misled by the way lidar beams reflect off of something as mundane as a puddle.

Why it matters: Semi autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles are largely expected to reduce accidents, but aspects of the tech stack can introduce risk. Simulation is one way to discover scenarios that may fool sensors and train perception algorithms accordingly.

What's happening: Large-scale sensor simulation enables a fast and reliable path towards perception system development by testing thousands of scenarios under hundreds of different conditions, from the size and distribution of the puddles to the speed and direction of vehicles and environmental backscattering and absorption.

Between the lines: Simulations have pointed out the limitations of sensor technology, like lidar, for example.

  • Road conditions influence how lidar beams are reflected after hitting the road. Depending on the reflective qualities of a surface, a lidar receiver may or may not receive the reflection of a fired laser beam.
Expand chart
Adapted from a diagram by Metamoto; Graphic: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The bottom line: A perception algorithm has to decide what to do with received points, determining whether they are real or whether they are false positives. Extensive simulation is needed to generate enough data to train perception algorithms to catch these kinds of edge cases.

Amin Aghaei is a sensor simulation engineer at Metamoto, an AV simulations company.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. chargés d'affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and nonessential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten the embassy's ability to assist Americans.

Perfect storm brewing for extreme politicians

Data: Axios research; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Redistricting and a flood of departing incumbents are paving the way for more extreme candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Driving the news: At least 19 House districts in 12 states are primed to attract such candidates — hard partisans running in strongly partisan districts — according to an Axios analysis of districts as measured by the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI).