Today’s ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) functions do more than reduce the risk of injuries during a crash. Many features, such as autonomous braking, collision avoidance, and the ability of a vehicle to determine whether a lane change is possible, are designed to help avoid accidents altogether.
Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is a sensing method that detects objects and maps their distances. The technology works by illuminating a target with a laser pulse and measures the characteristics of the reflected return signal, helping vehicles “see” other objects like cars, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Since it was first introduced into automotive applications, the cost of LiDAR has dropped precipitously. An early model used by companies developing self-driving prototypes cost about $75,000—clearly not practical for mass production. But the cost has come down. At the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), for instance, suppliers showed off LiDAR with a range of 100 meters and a cost of $100. While not as powerful as top-of-the-line LIDARs, which boast ranges of 200 meters or more, the more compact low-cost model—smaller than a deck of playing cards—allows automakers to easily embed it into their vehicles (Fig. 3).