I have had a bunch of questions from friends about how the Uber self driving car works. The simple answer is that I don’t know. I have no relation to, or inside knowledge of what Uber is doing. However I can look at the outside of the vehicle and try to guess what sensors I can see. I have only seen a Uber self driving car once, it was driving by as I was driving in the opposite direction, so I did not get a good view. That means that this post is based on images found via google.
These pictures are based on the Ford vehicles. There are some news stories about a deal to get 100 Volvo cars for the main passenger service. There are a few Volvo pictures out that seem to be CAD (ie. drawings) and not actual images. Those show significantly less sensors and a cleaner integration. It makes sense that initial vehicles are a testbed to figure out what sensors you actually need and to help with mapping. Then the “production” vehicle would have far fewer sensors (and cost less to manufacture). I should also point out that many pictures I have seen are slightly different but are of a similiar design.
So here is an unorganized list of what I see.
- Velodyne 64 LIDAR(2.2 Million points per second):
Mounted to the highest point of the vehicle
- Velodyne PUCK LIDAR (only 300,000 points per second):
Front bumper center
Left side of top sensor pod
Right side of top sensor pod
Fin near rear passenger door
Fin near rear driver door
Center of rear bumper
- Cameras (I would estimate a little over 20 cameras on the vehicle):
1 forward camera on upper car deck
6 on top deck looking forward (lenses appear to be different, in 1 of the pictures it seems a camera hole might not have a camera)
2 on top deck looking front left
2 on top deck looking front right
2 on top deck looking rear left
2 on top deck looking rear right
2 on top deck rear facing
Maybe manufacturer cameras integrated with the side mirrors and rear facing. Not sure if Uber would be using them.
- Smaller dots near 6 cameras and on other parts of top deck: Are they mounting holes or sensors?
Located on top deck (Maybe Laird):
4 short black
4 slightly taller black
Maybe used for a local wifi, a wifi to communicate with other cars, a wireless e-stop, RTK (for improving GPS position), some for redundancy and/or multiple frequencies.
- GPS (I know these are antennas and maybe should be added to list above):
3 on top of the trunk(or boot for some folks)
1 in the center of top deck. Possibly used with a rear GPS to get heading.
They look like Garmins
- In the rear center of the top rack I can’t tell if there is a sensor, or if it is just a mounting bracket.
- There appears to be something clipped to the front bumper. I am not sure if that is a sensor, or if it is a laser (maybe IR, would the sun wash an IR laser out??) projecting a pattern for a camera to detect.
- 4 dots on back of the vehicle could be manufacturer backup alert sensors. Some pictures also appear to have them on the front. I don’t think Uber would be using those.
Here are a few things I did not see, but you might find in the vehicle:
- RADAR’s. I expected to see some to help in dusty, foggy, rainy, etc… conditions. They can be easier to hide.
- An encoder added to one of the tires. Most images I find are of the passenger side, are they hiding it on the driver side??
- Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) for getting the roll and pitch (ie. the angle) of the vehicle and position estimation.
- I would not be surprised if there was a camera (or two) in the vehicle
I hope you found this list interesting. If you know more about what sensors are in use leave it in the comments below.
Links to images above: