Roke demonstrates 3D ‘black box’ for road vehicles


A UK electronics engineering consultancy has demonstrated the world’s first viable 3D ‘black box’ technology for road vehicles, using just a single dashboard camera.

Fitted to an autonomous Toyota Prius, Roke Manor Research (Roke) demonstrated how data captured via vision processing technology could be used to provide a precise 3D reconstruction following a road incident. Known as vPinPoint, the device is set to offer independent evidence of what happened to insurers, drivers and, in the case of autonomous vehicles, manufacturers. This will not just lead to safer vehicles, but also help to build public trust in driverless vehicles. Early iterations of this technology were first developed by Roke for soldiers, in research undertaken for the UK government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

Over the past year, the company has been developing and miniaturizing the technology with the help of funding from Innovate UK, the country’s government-back technology innovation agency. The vPinPoint offers a high-precision, real-time image of events that is independent of maps or GPS. Roke believes that with further investment, the technology is not just limited to accident reconstruction, but could also prove useful for sports coaching, or meet wider needs in the transport industry.

“The funding from Innovate UK is essential in helping us remain at the forefront of autonomous and sensing technology,” said David Cole, managing director of Roke. “With 60 years of research under our belt, the money invested has the benefit of world-class engineers with experience across the defense, commercial and national security sectors.”

Roland Meister, head of transport for Innovate UK, commented, “Innovate UK and the Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles are excited to be able to support UK research and development into Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. The industry-led feasibility studies, such as Roke’s ‘black box’ solution, are great examples of UK capability in this area, and we expect to support many more projects over the coming years.”

Dr James Revell (pictured), consultant engineer at Roke, noted, “Unlike current dashcams, the technology we tested today uses computer vision algorithms to enable the precise position and orientation of any vehicle: car, bike, lorry or autonomous vehicle. This allows for near-perfect 3D reconstruction of any accident to be created, even if the vehicle loses complete control.”

To see a video of Roke’s demonstration of the vPinPoint click here.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).