This LiDAR-based 3D perception solution enables better situational awareness in places like airports by allowing improved people and object tracking.
The Charles de Gaulle Airport, located northeast of Paris, is Europe's second busiest airport, handling millions of passengers and tons of cargo every year. Monitoring people in such a bustling hub is always difficult, but worse during a pandemic period when authorities need to ensure compliance with social distancing norms.
Using a traditional CCTV and monitoring system alone may not be enough in such circumstances because of the amount of detail that needs to be captured. Now, a French company, Outsight, offers a 3D LiDAR perception solution to manage this.
Speaking to asmag.com recently, Raul Bravo, President and Co-Founder of Outsight, explained that what they are doing is leveraging the power of LiDAR like never before.
"LiDAR is especially useful because you can have the precise distance, shape, position, etc., of an object that a normal camera would find difficult to capture," Bravo said. "What we are doing is pushing the limits of what can be done with LiDAR in three ways. The first one is what we call shadow-less perception. This means that if you have several devices (cameras/sensors), as is the case in an airport, we can fuse them together to create a super-sensor. So, from an analytics perspective, you have only one device. Fusing data from multiple devices gives a comprehensive view of an object from multiple angles, which gives you a much better awareness of what is happening."
The second point is that the solution monitors and analyzes people and objects in real-time. The critical point is that the solution is not tracking just one or two people of interest, but everyone and everything. Depending on their activity and behavior, you can decide if they are worth closer monitoring or investigation. This is not just for security applications but also for operational efficiency. For instance, an operator can track trolley usage to optimize their availability.
"The third point is that we are delivering data in an actionable way, which means that you can either look at the information you want in real-time or as aggregated data," Bravo continued. For instance, if you're not interested in monitoring people but are interested in knowing how long people wait at a certain part of the airport, you can look at the history and statistics in a dashboard, where you will know how these things are evolving over time."
Benefits of 3D LiDAR perception
The key benefit of using this solution is reach. Bravo points out that you cannot cover thousands of square meters with cameras and have a consolidated view of the captured data.
"There is no other way to monitor all the cameras as if they were a single sensor, and having no collisions, no shadows, and tracking each individual in each exact position," Bravo pointed out. "The second benefit is that, in some cases, we can replace the cameras. There is a general misconception that using LiDAR sensors are more expensive than using cameras. But this is not necessarily true if you are using cloud-based monitoring."
Since LiDAR can cover larger areas with fewer devices, it can be a cost-efficient choice for the customer, compared to cameras.
How to get the most out of this solution
The first thing to ensure is that you are using the right kind of LiDAR. Many companies are offering LiDAR solutions, and there are also several different types of LiDAR.
"You should remember that LiDAR had been primarily developed for autonomous driving," Bravo said. "So, not all LiDAR solutions are optimized for people or traffic monitoring purposes. Knowing the best LiDAR or combination of LiDAR is an important factor."
Limitations of this solution
The most significant limitation is that LiDAR cannot capture details like cameras. For instance, in an airport, the solution can detect if an object is a human or luggage but not what kind of luggage it is. A camera can provide supplementary support to gather more details in such cases to overcome this challenge.
Demand in airports and beyond
Airports are an ideal vertical for this solution, given the massive number of people gathering there. Bravo said that Outsight is also suitable for places like malls, event venues,
and even for intelligent transportation systems.
"In a smart city, for instance, understanding the traffic flow of vehicles, pedestrians, classification of the traffic, etc., can be done in a much better way with LiDAR," Bravo said.
Finally, the current COVID-19 situation has also prompted a demand for this solution, as customers consider options to enforce social distancing measures. However, Bravo feels that this is a temporary trend, as once the pandemic subsides, people would return to the other purposes that the solution has been designed for.
Also read: How LiDAR helps protect endangered Elephants in Kenya