While there are, of course, a wide variety of use cases for lidar in our modern society, with a number of different industries who are or can benefit from the technology, in the mainstream the most common is with autonomous vehicles. Although there is some disagreement over whether or not it really is the best tool for that space, most see it as the most effective way for vehicles to “see” as they travel. That same concept can be applied not only to vehicles, but for other applications like robotics as well as managing and monitoring large facilities in industry and infrastructure settings. That said, collecting the data with lidar is only half of that battle, and software is needed to make that data actionable. One such company making headway in that space is Outsight.
We’ve discussed some of Outsight’s work here at Geo Week News in the past, looking at some of their alternative uses for lidar which can be used, for example, working with the forestry industry. The Paris-based software solution developer is working to expand their reach even further and continue what they term as their “mastery of 3D spatial intelligence technology,” and earlier this month announced a $22 million funding round, co-led by Energy Innovation Capital (EIC) and the Defense Innovation Fund managed by Bpifrance.
As the company puts in their release, this amount of funding is another indication of how the market views this technology even beyond its much-publicized potential in the autonomous vehicle space. Outsight does work with those use cases as well, but they detail here that this kind of 3D lidar can be used to monitor anything involving moving objects. One example is a large project they’ve recently and successfully tested in the Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport to monitor and optimize the way people flow throughout the facility. Their software solution works to overcome the common barriers in this industry – hardware being difficult to use for most outside of a subset of experts, the massive amounts of data collected, and a lack of standardization to name a few – to allow any new project to harness the potential of the technology.
With this new funding in hand, Outsight is now looking to expand their roadmap which includes their Edge processing system. In addition, the company is moving its solution to the cloud with the “first cloud-based lidar processing solution of dynamic scenes.” The company notes that the new process will have the ability to effectively process “on the order of tens of petabytes” of 3D data. With the new product, they’ll be aiming to address things like digital twin applications and automatic 3D data annotation.
Outsight calls out three specific solutions they offer for different industries who can benefit from their processing solution. They do work with the autonomous vehicle industry, as well as autonomous robots, utilizing SLAM technology to ensure a high-resolution live map. They can also work to utilize off-road movement as well. In addition to vehicles, they also work with infrastructure for organizations to monitor foot and vehicle traffic in an area, an initial step towards the foundation of more smart city concepts. Their software can also process multiple lidars into one single output. And finally they work with industrial spaces, both to monitor the flow of people through a facility as well as stockpile monitoring for construction, agriculture, and mining projects.
On their participation in the founding round, Principal at Bpifrance Adrien Muller said, “After supporting Outsight's early stages of development through our innovation funding, we are delighted to support this new stage of growth by acquiring a stake in the company. Our investment reflects our collective ambition to widely disseminate the benefits of LiDAR technologies thanks to Outsight's unique software-based approach which simplifies their use and reduces their deployment costs.” Outsight’s President and Co-Founder Raul Bravo added, “LiDAR is emancipating from its roots in self-driving car R&D to become the solution of choice in large-scale applications in mature markets, thanks to the new category of enabling software that we have created.”