Waymo is releasing its first set of multimodal sensor data for autonomous driving, which will be accessible to researchers for free on its website, in hopes of accelerating advancements in the field.
The "high-resolution sensor data" is intended for researchers at universities and other private research firms, Drago Anguelov, Waymo's principal scientist and head of research, said in a media briefing.
Waymo, Google's self-driving unit, said the data set includes video from 1,000 driving segments in a variety of driving environments with a 360-degree view. It also includes lidar frames and images with vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and signage carefully labeled.
The Waymo Open Dataset could help researchers make advances in two-dimensional and three-dimensional perception and make progress on areas such as domain adaptation, scene understanding and behavior prediction, the company said.
Waymo vehicles have driven 16 million kilometres on public roads in 25 locations, said Anguelov, and just "a small percent" of the data collected over the last 10 years is now available online.
"It's deliberately chosen to be diverse and representative of research problems we have," he said, and the full set of data "is not something that's easy to make accessible to researchers … it requires industrial strength infrastructure to process."
"This is just the first cut," Anguelov said. "We want to publish benchmarks on key problems in the space and organize competitions around them. Longer term, we will be looking to further extend the data sets based on community feedback."
He said that even though sharing the data can expose problems in self-driving technology, the developing field needs direction to "ask the right questions."
"Our intent was not to influence public perception; it's to contribute to the research community," Anguelov said.
Anyone who accesses the data must adhere to a licensing agreement that "strikes a good balance" between being open and making sure competitors won't use the information in production, Vijaysai Patnaik, Waymo's product lead, said during the briefing.
Patnaik said researchers' advances using the data will benefit Waymo and the industry as a whole.
"All of us have been a part of the research community," he said. "We understand how hard it is for somebody to collect this data. They'd have to build a car, put on sensors and calibrate them."
The data set is available at waymo.com/open.