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See London through the eyes of a self-driving car

Nick Summers, @nisummers
November 12, 2015
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When a driverless car glides down the street, avoiding pedestrians and stopping at traffic lights, what exactly does it see? Is the machine's perspective of the world so different to you and me? To give us an inside look, ScanLAB Projects strapped a laser scanner to a Honda CR-V and cruised through the streets of London. Although the car was being driven by a human, the LIDAR (light detection and ranging) equipment performed similarly to how it would in a driverless car. Like radar or sonar, this involves firing a laser in every direction and then measuring the time it takes to reflect back off nearby objects. These timings are then collected, analyzed and collected again to give the car a real-time picture of its surroundings. ScanLAB Projects is a London design company that uses the technology for art and visualisation purposes; they've already scanned museums, an underground railway line and the arctic circle. Its latest video -- produced for the New York Times Magazine -- combines the LIDAR recordings from the drive for a beautiful, eery look at the city.

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