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).

  • Patent number: 11210200
    Abstract: Aspects of the disclosure relate to validating autonomous control software for operating a vehicle autonomously. For instance, the autonomous control software is run through a driving scenario to observe an outcome for the autonomous control software. A validation model is run through the driving scenario a plurality of times to observe an outcome for the model for each of the plurality of times. Whether the software passed the driving scenario is determined based on whether the outcome for the software indicates that a virtual vehicle under control of the software collided with another object during the single time. Whether the validation model passed the driving scenario is determined based on whether the outcome for the model indicates that a virtual vehicle under control of the model collided with another object in any one of the plurality of times. The software is validated based on the determinations.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 23, 2020
    Date of Patent: December 28, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Franklin Morley, Omer Baror, Nathaniel Fairfield, Miner Crary
  • Patent number: 11205240
    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 22, 2016
    Date of Patent: December 21, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Christopher Paul Urmson, Peter Colijn, Dmitri A. Dolgov, Nathaniel Fairfield, Salil Pandit, Nirmal Patel, Ryan Powell, Min Li Chan
  • Publication number: 20210389768
    Abstract: An autonomous vehicle may include a stuck condition detection component and a communications component. The stuck-detection component may be configured to detect a condition in which the autonomous vehicle is impeded from navigating according to a first trajectory. The communications component may send an assistance signal to an assistance center and receive a response to the assistance signal. The assistance signal may include sensor information from the autonomous vehicle. The assistance center may include a communications component and a trajectory specification component. The communications component may receive the assistance signal and send a corresponding response. The trajectory specification component may specify a second trajectory for the autonomous vehicle and generate the corresponding response that includes a representation of the second trajectory. The second trajectory may be based on the first trajectory and may ignore an object that obstructs the first trajectory.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 3, 2021
    Publication date: December 16, 2021
    Inventors: Joshua Seth Herbach, Nathaniel Fairfield
  • Patent number: 11175666
    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: January 29, 2020
    Date of Patent: November 16, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Seth Herbach, Christopher Kennedy Ludwick, Matthew Paul McNaughton, Renaud-Roland Hubert, Jennifer Arden, Min Li Chan
  • Publication number: 20210276554
    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: Application
    Filed: April 16, 2021
    Publication date: September 9, 2021
    Inventors: Jared Stephen Russell, Dmitri A. Dolgov, Nathaniel Fairfield, Laura Estelle Lindzey, Christopher Paul Urmson
  • Publication number: 20210278837
    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: May 24, 2021
    Publication date: September 9, 2021
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Selh Herbach, Vadim Furman
  • Patent number: 11106893
    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: November 22, 2019
    Date of Patent: August 31, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Jiajun Zhu, Christopher Paul Urmson, Dirk Haehnel, Nathaniel Fairfield, Russell Leigh Smith
  • Publication number: 20210240184
    Abstract: The technology relates to maneuvering a vehicle prior to making a turn from a current lane of the vehicle. As an example, a route that includes making the turn from the lane is identified. An area of the lane prior to the turn having a lane width of at least a predetermined size is also identified. Sensor data identifying an object within the lane is received from a perception system of a vehicle. Characteristics of the object, including a location of the object relative to the vehicle, are identified from the sensor data. The vehicle is then maneuvered through the area prior to making the turn using the identified characteristics.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 29, 2021
    Publication date: August 5, 2021
    Inventors: Benjamin Charrow, Nathaniel Fairfield
  • Publication number: 20210197852
    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: Application
    Filed: December 14, 2020
    Publication date: July 1, 2021
    Applicant: WAYMO LLC
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Benjamin Pitzer, Austin Abrams, Christopher Bowen
  • Publication number: 20210191420
    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: March 4, 2021
    Publication date: June 24, 2021
    Inventors: David Ian Ferguson, Wan-Yen Lo, Nathaniel Fairfield
  • Patent number: 11036227
    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 10, 2019
    Date of Patent: June 15, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Jiajun Zhu, Christopher Urmson, David I. Ferguson, Nathaniel Fairfield, Dmitri Dolgov
  • Patent number: 11034351
    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: January 2, 2019
    Date of Patent: June 15, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Jared Stephen Russell, Dmitri A. Dolgov, Nathaniel Fairfield, Laura Estelle Lindzey, Christopher Paul Urmson
  • Patent number: 11029687
    Abstract: An autonomous vehicle may include a stuck condition detection component and a communications component. The stuck-detection component may be configured to detect a condition in which the autonomous vehicle is impeded from navigating according to a first trajectory. The communications component may send an assistance signal to an assistance center and receive a response to the assistance signal. The assistance signal may include sensor information from the autonomous vehicle. The assistance center may include a communications component and a trajectory specification component. The communications component may receive the assistance signal and send a corresponding response. The trajectory specification component may specify a second trajectory for the autonomous vehicle and generate the corresponding response that includes a representation of the second trajectory. The second trajectory may be based on the first trajectory and may ignore an object that obstructs the first trajectory.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 19, 2018
    Date of Patent: June 8, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Joshua Seth Herbach, Nathaniel Fairfield
  • Publication number: 20210158705
    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: February 4, 2021
    Publication date: May 27, 2021
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Seth Herbach, Andrew Hughes Chatham, Michael Steven Montemerlo
  • Patent number: 11016482
    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: Grant
    Filed: February 7, 2019
    Date of Patent: May 25, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Nathaniel Fairfield, Joshua Seth Herbach, Vadim Furman
  • Patent number: 11009875
    Abstract: The technology relates to maneuvering a vehicle prior to making a turn from a current lane of the vehicle. As an example, a route that includes making the turn from the lane is identified. An area of the lane prior to the turn having a lane width of at least a predetermined size is also identified. Sensor data identifying an object within the lane is received from a perception system of a vehicle. Characteristics of the object, including a location of the object relative to the vehicle, are identified from the sensor data. The vehicle is then maneuvered through the area prior to making the turn using the identified characteristics.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 9, 2017
    Date of Patent: May 18, 2021
    Inventors: Benjamin Charrow, Nathaniel Fairfield
  • Patent number: 11010998
    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: March 25, 2019
    Date of Patent: May 18, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: Dmitri A Dolgov, Sebastian Thrun, Luis Ricardo Prada Gomez, Christopher Paul Urmson, Nathaniel Fairfield, Anthony Scott Levandowski
  • Patent number: 10962981
    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: October 6, 2019
    Date of Patent: March 30, 2021
    Assignee: Waymo LLC
    Inventors: David Ian Ferguson, Wan-Yen Lo, Nathaniel Fairfield
  • Publication number: 20210080961
    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 30, 2020
    Publication date: March 18, 2021
    Inventors: Nolan Shenai, Nathaniel Fairfield, Benjamin Pitzer
  • Publication number: 20210043089
    Abstract: Aspects of the present disclosure relate to a system having a memory, a plurality of self-driving systems for controlling a vehicle, and one or more processors. The processors are configured to receive at least one fallback task in association with a request for a primary task and at least one trigger of each fallback task. Each trigger is a set of conditions that, when satisfied, indicate when a vehicle requires attention for proper operation. The processors are also configured to send instructions to the self-driving systems to execute the primary task and receive status updates from the self-driving systems. The processors are configured to determine that a set of conditions of a trigger is satisfied based on the status updates and send further instructions based on the associated fallback task to the self-driving systems.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 1, 2020
    Publication date: February 11, 2021
    Inventors: Joshua Seth Herbach, Philip Nemec, Nathaniel Fairfield