Aptiv Makes More Prized AV Data Public

NuScenes by Aptiv is the largest data set of its kind available to the public and includes 1.4 million images.

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

March 28, 2019

2 Min Read
New Aptiv Data Set
Aptiv aims to heighten safety, speed innovation with nuScenes release.

Technology supplier Aptiv adds to its public database of autonomous-vehicle research, giving developers and academics unprecedented access to sensor outputs, such as annotated street scenes of complex driving environments only a few companies have the capacity to generate.

Called “nuScenes by Aptiv,” it is the largest data set of its kind available to the public and comprises 1.4 million images, as well as 390,000 lidar sweeps and 1.4 million 3D human annotated bounding boxes. AVs use bounding boxes to identify objects along the roadway.

“At Aptiv, we believe that we make progress as an industry by sharing, especially when it comes to safety,” says Karl Iagnemma, president-Aptiv Autonomous Mobility and founder of nuTonomy, the AV unit spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and snapped up by Aptiv for $400 million in 2017.

“Our team thought carefully about the components of our data that we could open to the public in order to enable safer, smarter systems across the entire autonomous vehicle space,” he says in a statement. “We appreciate the importance of transparency and building trust in AVs, and we look forward to sharing nuScenes by Aptiv, information that has traditionally been kept confidential with academic communities, cities and the public at large.”

The full release of nuScenes comes one year after Aptiv released a similar but smaller dataset of AV research. But all the sensor data comes from Aptiv testing in Singapore and Boston, where its fleets of AVs navigate complex urban environments.

There are 1,000 scenes in total for developers and academics to access from an Aptiv portal. So far, more than 1,000 users and over 200 academic institutions have registered to access the dataset, Aptiv says.

In addition to access to carefully curated safety standards, nuScenes accelerates progress and innovation in the AV field by unlocking data companies historically have closely guarded. Iagnemma recently told a South by Southwest mobility conference that the data is meticulously annotated by hand and its release carefully vetted by the company.

“It takes a lot of time and effort to curate it and mark it up,” he said. “So, if you’re a developer and you don’t have access to (AVs), which are very expensive, that means you don’t have access to the data and you can’t develop the technology. Practically, you have to have access to the data.

“Our belief is, if there are trade secrets, and we’re a company making money, you have to protect the stuff that’s really valuable,” Iagnemma added. “But you also want to share stuff that enables the entire industry to (improve) safety.”

Safety lapses, such as the highly publicized Uber crash that killed a pedestrian last year in Arizona, reflect poorly on the entire industry at a time when AV developers are trying to win trust in their technology.

“We want to raise the bar on safety, so we’re big believers in sharing and open-source, within some limits,” Iagnemma said at the event.

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