Patents by Inventor Nathaniel Fairfield

Nathaniel Fairfield has filed for patents to protect the following inventions. This listing includes patent applications that are pending as well as patents that have already been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • Publication number: 20240036583
    Abstract: Disclosed herein are systems and methods for providing supplemental identification abilities to an autonomous vehicle system. The sensor unit of the vehicle may be configured to receive data indicating an environment of the vehicle, while the control system may be configured to operate the vehicle. The vehicle may also include a processing unit configured to analyze the data indicating the environment to determine at least one object having a detection confidence below a threshold. Based on the at least one object having a detection confidence below a threshold, the processor may communicate at least a subset of the data indicating the environment for further processing. The vehicle is also configured to receive an indication of an object confirmation of the subset of the data. Based on the object confirmation of the subset of the data, the processor may alter the control of the vehicle by the control system.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 10, 2023
    Publication date: February 1, 2024
    Inventors: David Ian Ferguson, Wan-Yen Lo, Nathaniel Fairfield
  • Publication number: 20230415732
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for controlling a first vehicle autonomously are disclosed. For instance, one or more processors may plan to maneuver the first vehicle to complete an action and predict that a second vehicle will take a particular responsive action. The first vehicle is then maneuvered towards completing the action in a way that would allow the first vehicle to cancel completing the action without causing a collision between the first vehicle and the second vehicle, and in order to indicate to the second vehicle or a driver of the second vehicle that the first vehicle is attempting to complete the action. Thereafter, when the first vehicle is determined to be able to take the action, the action is completed by controlling the first vehicle autonomously according to whether the second vehicle begins to take the particular responsive action.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 7, 2023
    Publication date: December 28, 2023
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Vadim Furman
  • Patent number: 11853067
    Abstract: Aspects of the disclosure relate to arranging a pickup between a driverless vehicle and a passenger. For instance, dispatch instructions dispatching the vehicle to a predetermined pickup area in order to pick up the passenger are received by the vehicle which begins maneuvering to the predetermined pickup area. While doing so, the vehicle receives from the passenger's client computing device the device's location. An indication that the passenger is interested in a fly-by pickup is identified. The fly-by pickup allows the passenger to safely enter the vehicle at a location outside of the predetermined pickup area and prior to the one or more processors have maneuvered the vehicle to the predetermined pickup area. The vehicle determines that the fly-by pickup is appropriate based on at least the location of the client computing device and the indication, and based on the determination, maneuvers itself in order to attempt the fly-by pickup.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 18, 2021
    Date of Patent: December 26, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Seth Herbach, Christopher Kennedy Ludwick, Matthew Paul McNaughton, Renaud-Roland Hubert, Jennifer Arden, Min Li Chan
  • Patent number: 11851082
    Abstract: The technology relates to route planning and performing driving operations in autonomous vehicles, such as cargo trucks, articulating buses, as well as other vehicles. A detailed kinematic model of the vehicle in evaluated in conjunction with roadgraph and other information to determine whether a route or driving operation is feasible for the vehicle. This can include evaluating a hierarchical set of driving rules and whether current driving conditions impact any of the rules. Driving trajectories and cost can be evaluated when pre-planning a route for the vehicle to follow. This can include determining an ideal trajectory for the vehicle to take a particular driving action. Pre-planned routes may be shared with a fleet of vehicles, and can be modified based on information obtained by different vehicles of the fleet.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 14, 2020
    Date of Patent: December 26, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Benjamin Pitzer, Austin Abrams, Christopher Bowen
  • Publication number: 20230410241
    Abstract: The technology relates to facilitating transportation services between a user and a vehicle having an autonomous driving mode. For instance, one or more server computing devices having one or more processors may information identifying the current location of the vehicle. The one or more server computing devices may determine that the user is likely to want to take a trip to a particular destination based on prior location history for the user. The one or more server computing devices may dispatch the vehicle to cause the vehicle to travel in the autonomous driving mode towards a location of the user. In addition, after dispatching, the one or more server computing devices sending a notification to a client computing device associated with the user indicating that the vehicle is currently available to take the passenger to the particular destination.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 26, 2023
    Publication date: December 21, 2023
    Inventors: Christopher Paul Urmson, Dmitri A. Dolgov, Nathaniel Fairfield, Peter Colijin, Salil Pandit, Nirmal Patel, Ryan Powell, Min Li Chan
  • Publication number: 20230386338
    Abstract: Example systems and methods allow for reporting and sharing of information reports relating to driving conditions within a fleet of autonomous vehicles. One example method includes receiving information reports relating to driving conditions from a plurality of autonomous vehicles within a fleet of autonomous vehicles. The method may also include receiving sensor data from a plurality of autonomous vehicles within the fleet of autonomous vehicles. The method may further include validating some of the information reports based at least in part on the sensor data. The method may additionally include combining validated information reports into a driving information map. The method may also include periodically filtering the driving information map to remove outdated information reports. The method may further include providing portions of the driving information map to autonomous vehicles within the fleet of autonomous vehicles.
    Type: Application
    Filed: August 3, 2023
    Publication date: November 30, 2023
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Seth Herbach, Andrew Hughes Chatham, Michael Steven Montemerlo
  • Publication number: 20230367320
    Abstract: The technology relates to fine maneuver control of large autonomous vehicles that employ multiple sets of independently actuated wheels. The control is able to optimize the turning radius, effectively negotiate curves, turns, and clear static objects of varying heights. Each wheel or wheel set is configured to adjust individually via control of an on-board computer system. Received sensor data and a physical model of the vehicle can be used for route planning and selecting maneuver operations in accordance with the additional degrees of freedom provided by the independently actuated wheels. This can include making turns, moving into or out of parking spaces, driving along narrow or congested roads, construction zones, loading docks, etc. A given maneuver may include maintaining a minimum threshold distance from a neighboring vehicle or other object.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 14, 2023
    Publication date: November 16, 2023
    Inventors: Nolan Shenai, Nathaniel Fairfield, Benjamin Pitzer
  • Patent number: 11815896
    Abstract: Aspects of the disclosure relate to arranging a pickup between a driverless vehicle and a passenger. For instance, dispatch instructions dispatching the vehicle to a predetermined pickup area in order to pick up the passenger are received by the vehicle which begins maneuvering to the predetermined pickup area. While doing so, the vehicle receives from the passenger's client computing device the device's location. An indication that the passenger is interested in a fly-by pickup is identified. The fly-by pickup allows the passenger to safely enter the vehicle at a location outside of the predetermined pickup area and prior to the one or more processors have maneuvered the vehicle to the predetermined pickup area. The vehicle determines that the fly-by pickup is appropriate based on at least the location of the client computing device and the indication, and based on the determination, maneuvers itself in order to attempt the fly-by pickup.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 18, 2021
    Date of Patent: November 14, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Seth Herbach, Christopher Kennedy Ludwick, Matthew Paul McNaughton, Renaud-Roland Hubert, Jennifer Arden, Min Li Chan
  • Patent number: 11815903
    Abstract: Disclosed herein are systems and methods for providing supplemental identification abilities to an autonomous vehicle system. The sensor unit of the vehicle may be configured to receive data indicating an environment of the vehicle, while the control system may be configured to operate the vehicle. The vehicle may also include a processing unit configured to analyze the data indicating the environment to determine at least one object having a detection confidence below a threshold. Based on the at least one object having a detection confidence below a threshold, the processor may communicate at least a subset of the data indicating the environment for further processing. The vehicle is also configured to receive an indication of an object confirmation of the subset of the data. Based on the object confirmation of the subset of the data, the processor may alter the control of the vehicle by the control system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 4, 2021
    Date of Patent: November 14, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: David Ian Ferguson, Wan-Yen Lo, Nathaniel Fairfield
  • Publication number: 20230339469
    Abstract: Methods and devices for detecting traffic signals and their associated states are disclosed. In one embodiment, an example method includes a scanning a target area using one or more sensors of a vehicle to obtain target area information. The vehicle may be configured to operate in an autonomous mode, and the target area may be a type of area where traffic signals are typically located. The method may also include detecting a traffic signal in the target area information, determining a location of the traffic signal, and determining a state of the traffic signal. Also, a confidence in the traffic signal may be determined. For example, the location of the traffic signal may be compared to known locations of traffic signals. Based on the state of the traffic signal and the confidence in the traffic signal, the vehicle may be controlled in the autonomous mode.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 5, 2023
    Publication date: October 26, 2023
    Inventors: David I. Ferguson, Nathaniel Fairfield, Anthony Levandowski
  • Patent number: 11780431
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for controlling a first vehicle autonomously are disclosed. For instance, one or more processors may plan to maneuver the first vehicle to complete an action and predict that a second vehicle will take a particular responsive action. The first vehicle is then maneuvered towards completing the action in a way that would allow the first vehicle to cancel completing the action without causing a collision between the first vehicle and the second vehicle, and in order to indicate to the second vehicle or a driver of the second vehicle that the first vehicle is attempting to complete the action. Thereafter, when the first vehicle is determined to be able to take the action, the action is completed by controlling the first vehicle autonomously according to whether the second vehicle begins to take the particular responsive action.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 10, 2022
    Date of Patent: October 10, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Vadim Furman
  • Patent number: 11762386
    Abstract: A vehicle configured to operate in an autonomous mode may operate a sensor to determine an environment of the vehicle. The sensor may be configured to obtain sensor data of a sensed portion of the environment. The sensed portion may be defined by a sensor parameter. Based on the environment of the vehicle, the vehicle may select at least one parameter value for the at least one sensor parameter such that the sensed portion of the environment corresponds to a region of interest. The vehicle may operate the sensor, using the selected at least one parameter value for the at least one sensor parameter, to obtain sensor data of the region of interest, and control the vehicle in the autonomous mode based on the sensor data of the region of interest.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 8, 2021
    Date of Patent: September 19, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Jiajun Zhu, Christopher Urmson, David I. Ferguson, Nathaniel Fairfield, Dmitri Dolgov
  • Patent number: 11745742
    Abstract: Aspects of the disclosure relate to generating a speed plan for an autonomous vehicle. As an example, the vehicle is maneuvered in an autonomous driving mode along a route using pre-stored map information. This information identifies a plurality of keep clear regions where the vehicle should not stop but can drive through in the autonomous driving mode. Each keep clear region of the plurality of keep clear regions is associated with a priority value. A subset of the plurality of keep clear regions is identified based on the route. A speed plan for stopping the vehicle is generated based on the priority values associated with the keep clear regions of the subset. The speed plan identifies a location for stopping the vehicle. The speed plan is used to stop the vehicle in the location.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 16, 2021
    Date of Patent: September 5, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Jared Stephen Russell, Dmitri A. Dolgov, Nathaniel Fairfield, Laura Estelle Lindzey, Christopher Paul Urmson
  • Patent number: 11747809
    Abstract: A method and apparatus are provided for optimizing one or more object detection parameters used by an autonomous vehicle to detect objects in images. The autonomous vehicle may capture the images using one or more sensors. The autonomous vehicle may then determine object labels and their corresponding object label parameters for the detected objects. The captured images and the object label parameters may be communicated to an object identification server. The object identification server may request that one or more reviewers identify objects in the captured images. The object identification server may then compare the identification of objects by reviewers with the identification of objects by the autonomous vehicle. Depending on the results of the comparison, the object identification server may recommend or perform the optimization of one or more of the object detection parameters.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 28, 2021
    Date of Patent: September 5, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Jiajun Zhu, Christopher Paul Urmson, Dirk Haehnel, Nathaniel Fairfield, Russell Leigh Smith
  • Patent number: 11747811
    Abstract: Aspects of the present disclosure relate to a vehicle having one or more computing devices that may receive instructions to pick up a passenger at a pickup location and determine when the vehicle is within a first distance of the pickup location. When the vehicle is within the first distance, the computing devices may make a first attempt to find a spot to park the vehicle and wait for the passenger. When the vehicle is unable to find a spot to park the vehicle on the first attempt, the computing devices may maneuvering the vehicle in order to make a second attempt to find a spot to park the vehicle and wait for the passenger. When the vehicle is unable to find a spot to park the vehicle on the second attempt, the computing devices may stop the vehicle in a current lane to wait for the passenger.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 1, 2019
    Date of Patent: September 5, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Brian Douglas Cullinane, David Tse-Zhou Lu, Anne Kristiina Aula, Jennifer Arden, Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Seth Herbach, Calvin Karl Johnson, Renaud-Roland Hubert
  • Patent number: 11731629
    Abstract: Methods and devices for detecting traffic signals and their associated states are disclosed. In one embodiment, an example method includes a scanning a target area using one or more sensors of a vehicle to obtain target area information. The vehicle may be configured to operate in an autonomous mode, and the target area may be a type of area where traffic signals are typically located. The method may also include detecting a traffic signal in the target area information, determining a location of the traffic signal, and determining a state of the traffic signal. Also, a confidence in the traffic signal may be determined. For example, the location of the traffic signal may be compared to known locations of traffic signals. Based on the state of the traffic signal and the confidence in the traffic signal, the vehicle may be controlled in the autonomous mode.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 26, 2020
    Date of Patent: August 22, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: David I. Ferguson, Nathaniel Fairfield, Anthony Levandowski
  • Patent number: 11727523
    Abstract: The technology relates to facilitating transportation services between a user and a vehicle having an autonomous driving mode. For instance, one or more server computing devices having one or more processors may information identifying the current location of the vehicle. The one or more server computing devices may determine that the user is likely to want to take a trip to a particular destination based on prior location history for the user. The one or more server computing devices may dispatch the vehicle to cause the vehicle to travel in the autonomous driving mode towards a location of the user. In addition, after dispatching, the one or more server computing devices sending a notification to a client computing device associated with the user indicating that the vehicle is currently available to take the passenger to the particular destination.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 17, 2021
    Date of Patent: August 15, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Christopher Paul Urmson, Peter Colijn, Dmitri A. Dolgov, Nathaniel Fairfield, Salil Pandit, Nirmal Patel, Ryan Powell, Min Li Chan
  • Patent number: 11720101
    Abstract: Aspects of the present disclosure relate generally to limiting the use of an autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle by particular occupants based on permission data. More specifically, permission data may include destinations, routes, and/or other information that is predefined or set by a third party. The vehicle may then access the permission data in order to transport the particular occupant to the predefined destination, for example, without deviation from the predefined route. The vehicle may drop the particular occupant off at the destination and may wait until the passenger is ready to move to another predefined destination. The permission data may be used to limit the ability of the particular occupant to change the route of the vehicle completely or by some maximum deviation value. For example, the vehicle may be able to deviate from the route up to a particular distance from or along the route.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 19, 2021
    Date of Patent: August 8, 2023
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Dmitri A. Dolgov, Sebastian Thrun, Luis Ricardo Prada Gomez, Christopher Paul Urmson, Nathaniel Fairfield, Anthony Scott Levandowski
  • Publication number: 20230244228
    Abstract: Example systems and methods enable an autonomous vehicle to request assistance from a remote operator in certain predetermined situations. One example method includes determining a representation of an environment of an autonomous vehicle based on sensor data of the environment. Based on the representation, the method may also include identifying a situation from a predetermined set of situations for which the autonomous vehicle will request remote assistance. The method may further include sending a request for assistance to a remote assistor, the request including the representation of the environment and the identified situation. The method may additionally include receiving a response from the remote assistor indicating an autonomous operation. The method may also include causing the autonomous vehicle to perform the autonomous operation.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 6, 2023
    Publication date: August 3, 2023
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Seth Herbach, Vadim Furman
  • Publication number: 20230245563
    Abstract: Example systems and methods allow for reporting and sharing of information reports relating to driving conditions within a fleet of autonomous vehicles. One example method includes receiving information reports relating to driving conditions from a plurality of autonomous vehicles within a fleet of autonomous vehicles. The method may also include receiving sensor data from a plurality of autonomous vehicles within the fleet of autonomous vehicles. The method may further include validating some of the information reports based at least in part on the sensor data. The method may additionally include combining validated information reports into a driving information map. The method may also include periodically filtering the driving information map to remove outdated information reports. The method may further include providing portions of the driving information map to autonomous vehicles within the fleet of autonomous vehicles.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 7, 2023
    Publication date: August 3, 2023
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Seth Herbach, Andrew Hughes Chatham, Michael Steven Montemerlo