Quicker than expected, lidar can increase vehicle safety
While leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) anticipated that lidar would make its big debut in fully autonomous vehicles, the unthinkable has happened: consumers have become increasingly interested in the capabilities that lidar offers as an extension of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) for everyday passenger cars.
Vehicle manufacturers have tried to use both cameras and radars for enhanced safety systems, but these options have limitations which prevent them from being reliable 24/7. Cameras, for instance, require good lighting and weather conditions. Cameras also only provide 2D imaging, which is suboptimal for quickly measuring distances between objects and moving vehicles. Radars can provide 3D imaging and function in some less-than-ideal environmental situations, but lack the spatial resolution necessary to accurately detect, track, and classify objects. As a result, manufacturers have started to turn to lidar for their ADAS programs.
Lidar technology, which uses light to create a 3D representation of a vehicle’s surroundings, excels in areas where both cameras and radars fall short. Lidar can serve as its own source of illumination, making it perfect for situations with poor lighting or unfavorable environments. It also addresses imaging issues which impact the performance of both cameras and radars, as lidars can produce accurate 3D information on distances, dimensions, and velocity, giving a vehicle’s computer a comprehensive picture of the vehicle’s surrounding environment. Lidars are more advanced than cameras and radars in many aspects, but in order to make vehicles as safe as possible, the three should work together in tandem.
A common misconception is that lidars are too expensive and unreliable for mass-market applications, but they can actually be low cost and high performance for ADAS with the right design. The key will be for lidars to be designed and manufactured with an appropriate balance of performance, reliability, and affordability. If that can happen, consumers will be able to purchase everyday passenger cars equipped with discreet, barely noticeable lidar systems by 2023. To learn more, read this article at Wards Auto.