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Google, Waymo Used Driverless Cars to Make Virtual San Francisco

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Waymos autonomous Jaguar I-PACE electric SUV.

Block-NeRF, created by researchers at driverless car company Waymo and Google Research, uses vast numbers of photos taken by cameras mounted atop Waymo’s autonomous cars to build small 3D models, each covering just over one city block. These models

Credit: Waymo

Researchers at driverless car company Waymo and Google Research used self-driving vehicles to create a virtual model of San Francisco from photos processed by Block-NeRF software.

The software is based on Neural Radiance Fields (NeRFs), a tool that builds three-dimensional (3D) models of small objects from a collection of stills that are viewable from all angles, even those that have no existing photos.

The method uses artificial intelligence trained to generate accurate 3D models from large image sets, which includes data on the exact location from which each image was captured.

Block-NeRF weaves together models of city blocks photographed by the driverless cars to keep the size of the overall model sufficiently small to run on modest hardware.

From New Scientist
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