Physics and Engineering Chair Receives Grant for LiDAR Performance Assessment in Autonomous Vehicles

Feb 11, 2022 12:00 AM

Dr. Jamil Abdo, chair of the Frostburg State University Department of Physics and Engineering, was recently awarded a $171,351 grant by the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) and Intelligent Fusion Technology, Inc., for Phase II of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Performance Assessment in Autonomous Vehicles.

LiDAR sensors are increasingly used in autonomous vehicles and are one of the most promising options for automated driving. LiDARs use light in the form of a pulsed laser to manage the range to a target. Objects can then be detected and recognized based on the obtained data. Despite intense development in recent years, LiDAR performance is limited, particularly by adverse weather conditions, dust and smog.

“Currently, preliminary testing of LiDARs is mostly performed in sunny or indoor environments,” said Abdo. “Experiments conducted under such conditions cannot provide information regarding performance under extreme conditions.”

student tests autonomous vehicle in heavy fog
Spencer Hamblin ’21 monitors the LiDAR in an autonomous vehicle on a foggy Frostburg day.

This is the second grant Abdo has received in recent years. Abdo, along with research interns in his department, conducted experiments and analyzed LiDAR performance under adverse weather conditions, including heavy snow, rain and dense fog, on two commercial LiDAR sensors. Results from Phase I, which mainly focused on investigating the effects of adverse weather conditions on LiDAR performance of stationary objects, will be used in this next phase. This work is expected to provide a technological validation of the commercial use of LiDARs in autonomous vehicles.

“Analysis of the influence of weather on LiDAR sensor performance is an important step toward improving the safety levels for autonomous driving under adverse weather conditions as such analysis provide reliable information to adapt vehicle behavior,” Abdo added.