TTWCP-834-02-wolfgang_juchmann-velodynelidar_com-using_lidar_for_vehicles: Wolfgang Juchman, Director of Sales and Marketing
 of Velodyn LiDAR

On This Episode…

www.velodynelidar.com/lidar/lidar.aspx

Wolfgang Juchmann has more than 14 years of international experience in technical sales, product management, and marketing of industrial lasers and optical products for a variety of applications. The combination of Juchmann’s 
technical background, commercial experiences, and his passion for customer satisfaction are unique factors that enable him to profitably lead new product developments for Velodyne’s LiDAR division as well as manage existing product portfolios with an intimate awareness for the customer’s expectations.

 

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TRANSCRIPT

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.

 

Wolfgang Juchman – Velodyne LiDAR

Airing Date: October 3, 2015

 

PART ONE

Craig Peterson: We’ve talked a little bit about Lidar on the show before. We’ll talk a little bit now about the history of Lidar and how far it has come. In fact there are new devices, and I got one right in front of me, that make it almost miniature. It’s just amazing what happened. You might have seen some Lidar before. We’ll talk about where you might have seen that and used as well. We are joined right now by Wolfgang Juchman. Wolfgang welcome!

Wolfgang Juchman: Thank you very much Craig.

Craig: So you guys have a history in audio, in fact, you still have some audio products that you’re selling. And Lidar, let’s talk a little bit about that. The Darpa Grand Challenge, which is always been fascinating o me. How did you guys get involved and what technology did you get out of that, or bring to it.

Wolfgang: Yeah, so the owner of the company David Hall.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: He, uhm, he was always interested in fiddling around with technology. Making things move…

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And having closer feedback control.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: So he heard about the Darpa Grand Challenge. He said, “Well that’s a challenge for me!” He grabbed a couple of engineers from, from the audio team actually.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And he bought a Toyota pickup truck, went out to Las, to, well it was close to Las Vegas.

Craig: Right.

Wolfgang: On I5.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And then, uhm, he took part in the challenge.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: The first grand challenge which was in 2004-05.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: He used stereo vision

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And I think they had some fun, they didn’t win.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: Uhm, but he realized that stereo vision is actually limited, it only makes you look forward. It only can look in one direction

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And that long distances, the stereo factor is actually gone.

 

PART TWO

Craig: Right.

Wolfgang: Uhm, so he decided he wanted to have a different sensor, a more suited for self-driving cars.

Craig: Now well, and that’s what the Darpa Grand Challenge is, right?

Wolfgang: Exactly.

Craig: just, we got an escape toll for that for those who don’t know. But the Darpa Grand Challenge is a challenge, I think it’s over now, right? They’re not doing it anymore?

Wolfgang: Not for the self-driving cars, yes.

Craig: And the whole idea was you have to have a vehicle that could drive, navigate, and drive throughout a very nasty desert terrain, frankly. Over around rocks, trees other obstacles that are put in the way.

Wolfgang: Yup.

Craig: Alright, so now we got that out of the way.

Wolfgang: Yes.

Craig: So, some of those earlier inventions just didn’t cut it.

Wolfgang: Right. So you put on these inventor’s hat and came up with a system that’s based on lasers.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And the trick is not to use one laser, but to actually use 64 lasers.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And they spin around all the way 360 degrees, up to 20 times per second.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: So you got a full 360 degree image updated 20 times per second of the environment. Not just pictures but real 3D information so you know how far is another object away that you might want to avoid.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: Yeah.

Craig: Now, that technology had wasn’t taken. You guys went ahead and productized it and called it LiDAR, right?

Wolfgang: Right.

Craig: Over Velodyne, and there is a company that everyone’s heard of now in the whole wide world that frankly is using your technology to, quite literally, map the world.

Wolfgang: Yes. Absolutely! So the company is obviously Google.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: They uhm, they use our sensor on their self-driving cars. Actually, there are 3 generations of self-driving cars that all use our sensors.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: Uhm, driving around. And then, and their self-driving car business, if you wanna call that.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: It’s important to make a decision in the real time. But you can also record this data and make a map out of it.

Craig: Right.

Wolfgang: That’s what, like Google does it in street view. Uhm.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: Microsoft Bing Maps does it. Nokia Here.com, and several more. They’d use our sensor…

Craig: Right.

Wolfgang: Drive around with the 360 degree camera.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And in the background, you’d, you never see this LiDAR data, but in the background, that’s where they show where they take the 3D data and make a 3D environment out of it.

Craig: Right. And then that…

Wolfgang: And that helps with the visualization.

Craig: That’s what’s gonna be important. All of that mapping data that they’ve collected. Coz it’s not just the pictures as you pointed out.

Wolfgang: Right.

Craig: They know to the, I don’t know maybe the nanometer where everything is on the street. So now, when the self-driving cars are out on the streets, they have an extremely accurate map. Now things are always changing, and I know, it’s like the Google Cars can track, I think it was two dozen different things at the same time. So, it’s tracking the cyclists, it’s tracking some pedestrians and… and other vehicles. Because, of course, things change in real time.

Wolfgang: Right. Well not in the nanometer level but in the centimeter range.  

Craig: Ok. Well then that’s good enough.

Wolfgang: For the world that’s good as well.

Craig: Exactly! Now, you’ve taken the technology. And you’ve, you’ve brought it again to another generation, and I have sitting in front of me right now a new unit here. And this again, Velodyne. This is the new LiDAR unit and I don’t know how big you’d say it is. It’s maybe, I don’t know a couple of Campbell’s Soup cans in, in wet…

Wolfgang: Yeah.

Craig: It’s…

Wolfgang: I mean, we actually dubbed the name of it as we call it the “Velodyne LiDAR Puck”.

Craig: Yeah?

Wolfgang: So it’s a little bit larger that ice hockey puck. But it, it almost has that foam factor of an ice hockey puck.

Craig: You know actually it is. It’s about the same size as the pucks little kids use. Coz they make the foam pucks that are bigger.

Wolfgang: Ok.

Craig: Easier to hit when you’re learning how to play hockey. I’m from Canada so I know this stuff.

Wolfgang: That’s what I immediately thought. You must be, ey?

Craig: Exactly! So it’s about the size of a little kid’s hockey puck. Maybe 1 ½ times taller.

Wolfgang: Yes.

Craig: In here is some incredible technology. Why don’t you tell us about what Velodyne’s put into this LiDAR unit?

Wolfgang: Yeah, that’s… I mean, it looks very simple from the outside, but if you ever open one, uhm, it’s actually amazing what’s inside. So this one has 16 laser beams.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: Uhm, it has 16 detectors and they’re oriented at something like this.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: They’re spinning out. Some of them point 30 degrees 15 degrees up and 15 degrees down, and in between.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And then they rotate around to have that full 360 degree image.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And the amazing part is not just it’s so small, but actually the price has come down from the initial or… units at the Darpa Grand Challenge.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: Has come down to eight thousand dollars.

Craig: Right.

Wolfgang: And that it… that is… we find that’s quite amazing.

Craig: Yeah, that’s really cheap! Y’all, they, of course, it’s gonna continue because this unit here is the type of unit that we need on all of the self-driving cars, because we have to have the computers on board if they’re gonna be autonomous, they have to have incredibly accurate information about everything! 360 degrees around them.

Wolfgang: Exactly. Yes. And then, I mean, self-driving cars is, is one business.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: But uhm, there’s the whole area of factory automation where your forklifts…

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: That drive around your warehouses. I mean, Amazon gets more and more popular. And this incredible amount of automated vehicles driving back and forth.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And if that price by now, it should becomes makes sense to start using sensors.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: To avoid any collisions of… Well maybe there’s a box that fell down the shelf. 

Craig: Right.

Wolfgang: So, or a person fell over in a heart attack.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: You don’t want to run that person over.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: And that’s when you need a sensor that can detect objects and avoid collisions.

Craig: Well in this type of sensor too, I think many people, when you think about robotics and sensors that are moving around. They’ve been using these ultrasonic sensors for so long. Highly inaccurate you know.

Wolfgang: Right.

Craig: And that’s when LiDAR comes in.

Wolfgang: Yeah.

Craig: So you can map it out in a great amount of detail.

Wolfgang: That’s, that’s exactly where the advantage of LiDAR is, is the highest spatial resolution.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: That you can actually recognize a pedestrian, bicyclist, a tree… whatever you need to recognize.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: RADAR can tell you there is something, but it really can’t tell you what it is.

Craig: Uh huh.

Wolfgang: Uhm, while LiDAR has that high resolution that you’re gonna actually recognize features.

Craig: Very, very nice. All came and started with the audio technology and of course that’s what you use in RADAR and others. The whole concept of the sound goes out, it reflects back at a different frequency. And just from that basic tenet now we have LiDAR. It’s, it’s just amazing.

Wolfgang: Right. And on the lighter side we send it out. We measure the time it comes back to actually determine the distance.

Craig: The distance, right?

Wolfgang: That, that the light travels.

Craig: And you’re using a laser beam…

Wolfgang: Yes   .

Craig: Here. So again it’s much more fine-grained than sonar.

Wolfgang: Yeah, and we make in this one, we make 300,000 measurements in 1 second. That how, how fast this goes.

Craig: That’s a lot of Doppler processing!

Wolfgang: Yes.

Craig: Wolfgang, thanks being with us today.

Wolfgang: You’re welcome Craig.

Craig: You want to find out more, of course, you can go online. Velodyne LiDAR, looking it up right now. In fact that is correct. V-E-L-O-D-Y-N-E-L-I-D-A-R.com. You’ll find all the information you want to right there.

 

 

 

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