Mesh network + control tower = cheap autonomy


Seoul Robotics

A 3D perception company specializing in novel solutions for robotics is reimagining autonomy. The trick? Take the sensing burden off individual units and place it in the surrounding infrastructure.

Infrastructure to vehicle communication isn’t a new concept, though it’s development and deployment have been hamstrung from widespread adoption on public roads by the difficulties of coordinating the technology rollout and the underlying costs of such a scheme. Seoul Robotics is rolling out a practical testbed specifically targeting enterprise logistics. The company’s Level 5 Control Tower guides vehicles autonomously through a proprietary mesh network of computers without having to place any sensors on an individual vehicle. 

It could be the quickest route to Level 5 autonomy and a foundation for future autonomous public transit.

“Level 5 mobility has been proven to be more challenging to achieve than expected – until now. Level 5 Control Tower has massive potential to fuel autonomous mobility, and we are thrilled to continue expanding upon the implementation of this technology with BMW and other partners,” says HanBin Lee, CEO of Seoul Robotics. “Ultimately, these systems will be deployed in additional public and business settings, powering aspects of our everyday lives, such as autonomously navigated parking and public transit. With the Level 5 Control Tower, this future is closer and more accessible than ever.” 

The barriers to L5 autonomy are substantial: It’s cost-prohibitive, has questionable safety, and lacks intelligence because vehicles currently cannot fully perceive and anticipate obstacles, nor can they communicate with one another. Seoul Robotics hopes to solve this challenge by creating a system of software, sensors, and processors that take in the environment, communicating with other sensors and the 4/5G systems that come standard on vehicles today to navigate them without requiring a human. The concept, autonomy through infrastructure, is made possible in Seoul Robotics’ new rollout by the Level 5 Control Tower, the brain of the system. 

This system makes the last-mile logistics process safer and more efficient because it can better capture the full environment and move hundreds of vehicles simultaneously, reducing costs and mitigating accidents. And beyond contained business settings, which is the first deployment, the vision is that these systems could be deployed in everyday applications, from autonomously navigated parking to public transit and beyond.

The announcement of this new technology comes at the same time Seoul Robotics is entering a collaboration with BMW to automate fleet logistics at their manufacturing facility. The deployment uses hundreds of connected LiDAR sensors and leverages the Level 5 Control Tower system so that vehicles are autonomously guided from the factory floor to a parking facility, where they are housed before moving to dealerships. 

This is a good reminder that full autonomy will creep into the market, making inroads at the edges in easily automated use cases rather than bursting onto the scene in full public view.

Seoul Robotics plans to showcase the Level 5 Control Tower at CES, provided the show moves ahead as scheduled and isn’t canceled due to heightened concerns about COVID-19. 

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