Low Quality LiDARs Restrain Self-Driving Car Progress

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MIT Technology Review: Cheaper LiDARs may not deliver the quality of data required for driving at highway speeds:

"At 70 miles per hour, spotting an object at, say, 60 meters out provides two seconds to react. But when traveling at that speed, it can take 100 meters to slow to a stop. A useful range of somewhere closer to 200 meters is a better target to shoot for to make autonomous cars truly safe.

That’s where cost comes in. Even an $8,000 sensor would be a huge problem for any automaker looking to build a self-driving car that a normal person could afford.

Graeme Smith, chief executive of the Oxford University autonomous driving spinoff Oxbotica, told MIT Technology Review that he thinks a trade-off between data quality and affordability in the lidar sector might affect the rate at which high-speed autonomous vehicles take to the roads. Smith thinks that automakers might just have to wait it out for a cheap sensor that offers the resolution required for high-speed driving. “It will be like camera sensors,” he says. “When we first had camera phones, they were kind of basic cameras. And then we got to a certain point where nobody really cared anymore because there was a finite limit to the human eye.

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