Many car manufacturers see LiDAR as a technology allowing the rapid acquisition of the data necessary for the autonomous driving of their vehicle. One company, however, is an exception, Tesla, whose boss Elon Musk who said in August 2019 that anyone who would rely on LiDAR, this “useless and stupid” technology was “doomed to failure.”
Since 2018, Volvo has funded the Californian startup Luminar, which specializes in laser remote sensing technology which is often shortened under the acronym LiDAR. Today, the automaker announces that these products are ready for market and will offer Volvo “its first autonomous driving technology on the highway and paves the way for the development of active safety solutions” for a vehicle to come in 2022. Its IRIS system will be integrated above the windshield.
Operating on the radar principle, but relying on light and not on radio waves, LiDAR is used on Ford bipedal delivery robots or on Waymo autonomous taxis. It is also present on the latest iPad Pro and will probably be on the future iPhone 12 Pro. However, only the Audi has launched a car equipped with a LiDAR, the A8. Intended to offer level 3 autonomous driving, its AI Trafic Jam Pilot has never been activated due, according to the German manufacturer, to lack of legislation.
The proliferation of LiDAR solution providers, such as Velodyne, Bosch, Hexagon or the French company Valeo should quickly make this technology more affordable, which should therefore be found on a growing number of vehicles. Unless, of course, if the manufacturers listen to the recommendations of Elon Musk and base their autopilot only on radar and image recognition, which for the moment succeeds the American manufacturer and makes the president of Volkswagen jealous.