Thanks to ScanLAB Projects on behalf of New York Times Magazine, we can get a glimpse of what autonomous cars see when they navigate through the city. To do this, two architectural designers, Matthew Shaw and William Trossell, used a laser scanner to a Honda CR-V and drive through the city of London. The result is a very detailed and almost dreamlike quality.
The self driving cars are designed to find their way by using a technology known as lidar. It is a combination of light and radar. Therefore, the system will send out a huge amount of light per seconds which cannot be seen by humans’ eyes for it to be able to sense the surroundings. On top of that the projections are evolving and adapted according to the changes in the real life.
However, this technology has not been perfected yet as there are still duplications and digital ghosts. For example, the city’s double-decker buses, if scanned over and over again, it becomes time-stretched into featureless mega-structures blocking whole streets at a time and other buildings seem to repeat and stutter. Pedestrians walking along the road are seen as spectral silhouettes popping up as aberrations on the edge of the image and glass towers unravel into the sky like smoke.
Eventhough it is more than aesthetics, the architects note that the laser scans reveal not only how far the technology has come but also how far it has yet to go to produce accurate representations of a car’s wherabouts.