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Leti announces project to adapt obstacle-detection technology used in autonomous cars for multiple uses

GRENOBLE, France – Feb. 2, 2017 – Leti, a technology research institute of CEA Tech, today
announced a European project to develop a portable and wearable, multisensor and low-power
spatial-exploration and obstacle-detection system for all conditions of weather and visibility.
Published on 2 February 2017

The INSPEX system will adapt obstacle-detection capabilities common in autonomous cars for
portable and wearable applications, including guidance for the visually impaired and blind,
robotics, drones and smart manufacturing. It will be used for real-time, 3D detection, location and
warning of obstacles under all environmental conditions. These include smoke, dust, fog, heavy
rain/snow, and darkness, and in indoor and outdoor environments with unknown stationary and
mobile obstacles.

Applying expertise and technologies of the nine partners in the three-year project, the system will
be based on state-of-the-art range sensors such as LiDAR, UWB radar and MEMS ultrasound.

Coordinated by Leti, INSPEX will miniaturize and reduce the power consumption of these sensors
to ease their integration in the new system. They will then be co-integrated with an inertial
measurement unit (IMU), environmental sensing, wireless communications, signal-and-data
processing, power-efficient data fusion and user interface, all in a miniature, low-power system
designed to operate within wider smart and Internet of Things environments.

The main project demonstrator will embed the INSPEX system in a white cane for the visually
impaired and provide 3D spatial audio feedback on obstacle location.

“Sophisticated obstacle-detection systems such as those in autonomous vehicles are typically
large and heavy, have high power consumption and require large computational capabilities,”
said Suzanne Lesecq, project coordinator at Leti. “The INSPEX team will work together to
miniaturize and adapt this technology for individual and personal applications, which will require
even greater capability for all-conditions obstacle detection. The project is a strong example of
European innovation to bring leading-edge technology to a broader segment of users.”

In addition to applications for the visually impaired, drones and robots, the INSPEX system
application domains are expected to include:
  • Human mobility – First responders, disabled persons
  • Instrumentation – Distance-measuring tools
  • Smart homes and factories – Assembly machines, security surveillance systems
Joining Leti in the project are:
  • University of Manchester, UK
  • Cork Institute of Technology, IrelandSTMicroelectronics SRL, ItalyS
  • wiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology CSEM, Switzerland
  • Tyndall National Institute University College Cork, IrelandUniversity of Namur ASBL, Belgium
  • GoSense, France
  • SensL Technologies Ltd., Ireland

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