Autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars as they’re more readily referred to, will need many advanced detection technologies in order to be deemed safe in all situations. German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen said that for high speed safety, lidar technology is a must have.
Lidar is an expensive, infrared and/or laser based system that will detect beyond what cameras can “see”. The sensors and lasers can find contrasts and contours of obstacles well beyond that of a camera, in different lighting. It is especially successful in low lighting, or very bright situations. The camera on the Tesla Model S, in the recent fatal crash, may have confused the white semi truck trailer with the backdrop of the bright white sky in Florida.
Stefan Sommer, spokesperson for ZF spoke out after the recent accident. He said:
“I have no details about the Tesla accident, so I can’t comment on it . . . For autonomous driving, we will need three core technologies: picture processing camera technology, short and long-range radar and lidar.”
The expense of lidar technology is one of many crutches to the auto industry in moving forward with safer, advanced autonomous technology. It is not economical at this point to install it in mass production vehicles. However, just like the cost of lithium-ion batteries, or any other new technology, the cost will come down over time. As more companies invest into it and larger amounts of units are ordered, produced, purchased, and installed, it will become more attainable.