Pioneer’s autonomous driving tech includes LiDAR and driver monitors

It showed off its Level 3 driving system concept at CES.

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Chesnot via Getty Images
Chesnot via Getty Images

Pioneer is well-known for its audio devices, but at CES, it's showing off some of its other, and maybe less expected, tech. The company has been working on Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous driving technology -- or conditional and high automation, respectively, meaning the driver still has to be prepared to take over from the automated system at some point -- entering an already very populated field while making sure to bring along some of the entertainment products its already known for.

With the demonstration of its Advanced UX Cockpit -- Pioneer's Level 3 autonomous driving system concept -- Pioneer displays three features it says will be important as self-driving vehicles enter the market. The first is its Driver Monitoring System, which will keep track of a driver's attentiveness through a facial recognition camera, heart rate monitor, steering wheel sensor, seat sensor and seat vibration feature. Pioneer's Sensory UI, on the other hand, will help prepare a driver to take over for the automated system by using features aimed a stimulating their senses. A driver display and dash LED will provide visual stimulation, seat vibration and active feely -- a feature that changes the shape of the steering wheel padding -- will provide touch information and a fragrance UI will offer a bit of aroma to help the transition from passenger to driver. Lastly, entertainment will be key when drivers have less driving to do. In that regard, Pioneer is also demonstrating a multimedia display, a sound and aroma generator and automated seat position control.

Pioneer is also developing four types of LiDAR and is working on LiDAR systems that are more compact and low-cost. Additionally, by combining digital signal processing and prior object recognition, Pioneer aims to create LiDAR that is better than conventional LiDAR at detecting faraway objects, dark objects and objects among snow and rainfall.

Further, Pioneer's Head-Up Display aims to convey information to drivers with quality images featuring higher contrast, extended color gamut, better brightness and minimized distortion. And Pioneer has partnered with Here in its efforts to create a global standard for mapping data.

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Pioneer might not be a company you expected to jump into the autonomous driving scene, but with nearly every automaker and transportation company aiming to get their own versions of self-driving vehicles on the road in the next few years, these sorts of accessories are probably a smart direction in which to move.

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