Roke demos 3D Black Box for cars


Set to offer insurers, drivers and, in the case of autonomous vehicles, manufacturers independent evidence of what happened

Earlier this week, Roke Manor Research demonstrated what it claimed to be the world’s first viable 3D Black Box technology for vehicles, using just a single dashboard camera.

Fitted to an autonomous Toyota Prius, Roke demonstrated how data captured via vision processing technology could be used to provide a precise 3D reconstruction following a road incident.

The company stated it is set to offer insurers, drivers and, in the case of autonomous vehicles, manufacturers, independent evidence of what happened. This will not just lead to safer vehicles but also help to build public trust in driverless vehicles, said Roke.

Roke’s technology comes at a time when autonomous vehicles are in the headlines for safety issues; on 30 June car manufacturer, Tesla, stated that one of its Tesla Model S’ had been involved in a fatal collision with a trailer attached to a tractor.

In a blog on the Tesla site, the company noted that, “it is important to note that Tesla disables Autopilot by default and requires explicit acknowledgement that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase before it can be enabled,” and that, “every time that Autopilot is engaged, the car reminds the driver to “Always keep your hands on the wheel. Be prepared to take over at any time.””.  However, in this case, both Autopilot and human driver failed to prevent the collision, resulting in loss of life of the driver.

Dr James Revell, consultant engineer at Roke said: “Unlike current dashcams, the technology tested 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.”

Roke stated that early iterations of its 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, Roke has been developing and miniaturising the technology with the help of funding from Innovate UK.

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

Roland Meister, head of transport at Innovate UK, said: “Innovate UK and the centre 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.”

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, added Roke.


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