Tech

DRIVE I/O | Lidar is hard–but it’s coming soon

As Chinese automakers pour money into autonomous vehicles (AVs), they’re relying on another emerging technology to be the eyes of self-driving cars: lidar. Chinese carmakers are promising that models with lidar will hit the road in the next six months, likely marking the first time the tech sees widespread commercial deployment.

What is lidar? Well, it’s a lot like radar, but it uses lasers. It can pick out details and see small things better–a small dog crossing the road, a pothole. It can see things other systems, such as cameras and radar, might miss.

But established lidar systems are bulky contraptions that are proving hard to integrate into consumer cars. They’re expensive, too, driving up the price of cars that use them for self-driving functions. For now, it’s mostly seen on prototype robo-cars.

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