Tag Archives: mapping

Velodyne LiDAR at CES

HDL logo_single

Lidar is a version of radar that uses laser light rather than radio waves to measure distance and although it may seem like a new technology, it’s been around since the 60s. It’s come to greater prominence recently as it’s been used as one of the sensing technologies both for 3D mapping and driverless vehicles. Jamie and Todd find out more about lidar from Wolfgang Juchmann, Director of Sales and Marketing at Velodyne LiDAR.

Velodyne LiDAR has been one of the leading companies developing lidar technology, bringing down both the size and price of the lidar units over the past ten years. What previously was the size of a dustbin, costing $80,000, is now the size of a large food tin and costs $8,000. As sizes and prices fall, the cost and practicality of autonomous vehicles becomes more feasible, with lidar building high resolution 3D maps of the world around the car. The on-board computer can use the 3D information to tell the difference between cyclists and buildings, and drive the car on the road avoiding other road users.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Google Maps Goes into Malls, Airports

Google Maps before and after
Google Maps before and after

Google Maps announced the other day they will be extending their mapping service indoors. No, the Google street view cars are not going to be driving into your house, but they will be bringing their services into Malls and Airports, so you can get door-to-true end mapping.

According to the Google Blog, the new leg of this mapping service will bring that familiar “Blue Dot” (to indicate where you are) indoors to public spots. That way if you are in terminal G5 at Chicago – O’Hare, and need to get to terminal A15, you can map your destination and make sure you are going in the right direction.

“We’re thrilled Google Maps continues to provide you with new and helpful perspectives—whether you’re rushing through the airport or finding your way around a mall. ” says Brian McClendon – VP of engineering for Google Maps.

Google has partnered with Malls: Mall of America, IKEA, The Home Depot, select Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, Daimaru, Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi locations. Mapped airports at this time include: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Narita International (NRT), among others. As time progresses, they will continue to map stores and other public locations.

Read the release here.

Problems With Google Maps Directions

There are a lot of mapping sites out there.  Mapquest was probably the king, but I think it’s safe to assume Google has taken over the mantel.  Is that a good thing?  I thought so, since I, like many others, am living in the Google-verse these days.  And, consolidating my mapping needs into that simplifies my life a little bit more.

Now, I am not so sure, though.

It began last year when I printed out directions to Shenandoah National Park on the eve of a hiking and camping trip my son and I were taking.  In fairness there was only one error and, although it was glaring, that isn’t enough to convict them on.  Thankfully, it was also painfully obvious.  We were coming up on a double interstate exit – you know, those ones that are distinguished by “A” and “B”?  The highway exit sign said to follow “B” for Shenandoah, but the printout from Google said “A”.  Against my better judgment, and like a good Google lemming, I took “A”.

It was wrong, of course.  Thankfully, I knew right away since there was another turn listed within a quarter of a mile and it wasn’t there.  I was able to turn around and follow the road signs with no problem.

Soon after that incident Verizon was forced, by a court, to open their phone GPS to third-parties.  No longer could they require the use of VZ Navigator for $9.99 per month.  I was now able to use Google Maps!  And I installed it right away.

Now, Google Maps has a lot of to offer.  Not only directions and GPS, but all sorts of “layers” can be added that can show traffic, gas stations, restaurants, rest areas, and all sorts of stuff.

But, last week I took my wife and kids to Hershey Park and bad Google Maps memories came back to me.  We were close to Hershey – an easy two hour drive from my home, but getting to the park itself was not something I had down in my head.  No problem.  I pulled out my phone, punched in my starting location as “current location”, put in Hershey Park as my destination, and a map and directions instantly materialized on my screen.  I was in business.

And…it got us there.  We took a nice tour of the town of Hershey along the way, though!  Including, early on, passing by a street that we (much) later ended our trip on.

The good news is that Bing also has mapping software for my phone that works with it’s GPS.  I have heard good things about the Bing app as well.  We are taking another trip in a couple of weeks and I will be trying it out.  I figure it can’t do worse.