German electronics company Bosch has announced it’s got a production-ready version of its lidar (light detection and ranging) sensors that it says will be fundamental in making genuinely autonomous vehicles a reality. And, it will be affordable for carmakers to put in their vehicles.
Bosch says the sensors are suitable for both long- and short-range detection. In other words, they can be used for highway or congested urban driving alike. In the case of the latter, one of the examples Bosch gives is “if a motorcycle approaches an automated vehicle at high speed at a junction, lidar is needed in addition to camera and radar to ensure the reliable sensing of the two-wheeler”.
Lidar is necessary, not optional –– For true autonomous driving where drivers can actually take their hands off the wheel and kick their feet up, Bosch argues the current combination of radar and camera systems isn’t enough. What’s needed is the detailed and rapid imagery lidar systems can offer that are immune to inclement weather. But, until now, solutions have tended to be prohibitively expensive.
“By filling the sensor gap, Bosch is making automated driving a viable possibility in the first place,” says Bosch management board member, Harald Kroeger. “We want to make automated driving safe, convenient, and fascinating.”