#SelfDriving Defined: What is envirofencing?

Rachel Fukaya, Director of Brand

In case you missed it, last week we defined what vehicle perception is, how it’s changed and why it’s important. This week we’re taking a closer look at envirofencing, how it impacts autonomous vehicle pilots and why it’s the key to scaling AVs to mass adoption.

If you’re less of a reader and more of a listener, Diane Lansinger, our CEO, recently sat down with Santosh Sankar of Dynamo VC to chat about envirofencing. Listen to them dish on a bevy of hot topics.

For those of you who are still with me, envirofencing is the environmental equivalent of geofencing AVs. That still may mean nothing to you, so let’s break that down further.

Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Aspen Institute are stellar organizations that have dedicated their time and energy to updating a real-time atlas of AV pilots happening all over the world. To date, there are over 80 cities across the globe piloting AVs.

Two major issues exist with every single one of these pilots — they’re all in geo and envirofenced areas. This means AVs are “fenced” in an area where they are allowed to drive and gather data, but they cannot leave this geographic area, and are taken off the road completely when environmental factors make it impossible for the vehicle to function. Environmental factors include things like freezing rain, bugs, mud and tree sap.

When AV cameras, LiDAR and other hardware sensors come into contact with these environmental factors, they can’t see. This is why pilot programs envirofence AVs, to prevent unsafe actions. Yet, to scale AVs to mass adoption, we have to come together and find ways to remove envirofencing constraints altogether.

And, no, software alone can’t solve this issue. Yes, it plays a huge role in developing perception systems that can operate in adverse weather conditions but, at some point, even these perception systems will need a good cleaning to continue operating safely at full capacity.

This is where SEEVA comes in. We don’t care which perception hardware components win, we’ve developed a solution that’ll clean all of them on an AV. Because why would you envirofence an AV when you can keep the it on the road safely and generate revenue?