LIDAR sensors, which stand for Light Detection and Ranging, are becoming smaller and cheaper to make them available for mass-market vehicles, according to a report by The Verge.
In the past, LIDAR sensors have been very expensive. An early model from Velodyne cost $75,000. They help autonomous vehicles “see” other objects by using laser pulses to create a 3D model of the surrounding environment.
“There is absolutely a movement afoot to add LIDAR to mainstream automotive vehicles, which is something that you would buy off of a dealership,” said Anand Gopalan, the new CEO of Velodyne. “They will start with the luxury vehicle brands and then move their way downwards. We want to accelerate that process.”
LIDAR sensors could help make advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) safer.
“If there’s bright sunlight or if it’s really dark at night, some of these [camera-based] features are not reliable and not available all the time,” said Gopalan. “Adding a LIDAR will make these features much more reliable and much more readily available.”
At the recent Consumer Electronics Show, Velodyne presented a new model called VelaBit, which has a range of 100 meters and costs $100. It’s not as powerful as the company’s top-of-the-line LIDAR, but the VelaBit can be used for autonomous vehicle and manually driven cars with advanced driver assistance systems, according to the report.
VelaBit has a 60-degree horizontal field of view and a 10-degree vertical view, and it’s smaller than a deck of playing cards, says the report.
In addition to Velodyne, other companies have started to introduce products using LIDAR senses.