I can answer some of these questions right now, and I think these show that a course that teaches how to use Autoware and how each major component works would have benefits beyond the AD community.
Note that the answers below are with regards to what is theoretically possible but which may not currently be technically possible without doing some message porting, ripping code out of its repository, or similar. We aim to remove these barriers to reuse outside of Autoware.
Yes to HD maps if you are happy to treat your area as a road network (see below about the planner).
Yes to NDT. If you have a point cloud map you can use NDT to localise in it, although there may be some assumptions being made that I’m not aware of such as rotation of the lidar around X and Y.
Localisation using NDT is independent of the HD map, which is what defines road infrastructure. We don’t currently have any localisation capability based on the HD map but we are aware of the concept and may implement something in the future.
Yes, it is dependent on having an HD map of a road network to plan within. However you can treat many areas that you want to navigate within as a “road” network. Delivery robots in a hospital or office building, for example, may prefer fixed lanes rather than free space planning, at least for part of the delivery route such as corridors. Robots that drive on a footpath would also be a good fit for using a “road” network.
Also, Autoware.Auto will include a limited free-space planner for some functionality, such as parking the car.
The planners are for autonomous vehicles, so they are by necessity designed for Ackermann-type vehicles.
Yes, you can use it right now if you have a 3D LiDAR sensor and want to get bounding boxes of Euclidean clusters. We intend to maintain this reusability going forward.