Features
14 Jun 19

Cheaper sensors to speed up AV transition

After Elon Musks’ claim that all the AV transition need is cheaper sensors instead of expensive lidar, the Silicon Vally startup Luminar launches the same claim: AVs could go in mass production with cheaper sensors. 

While Elon Musks claims to bring its first AVs for the public on the market by 2021, the Silicaon Valley-based startup Luminar claims to have them out by 2022 thanks to its new sub-$500 lidar sensing package. 

Lidar – tremendous costs

So far, lidar is the dominating AV sensor technology. Yet, the highly accurate sensor system comes at a high price, which undermines the fast and wide adoption of AVs. Prices for individual lidar sensors range from $6,000 to even more than $100,000. 

These high prices are the main reason why Elon Musk is a well-known anti-lidar man, and why Tesla is equipping its vehicles with a combination of basic sensors and cameras he claims provide nearly the same accuracy as lidar. 

Luminar – low-cost lidar

Now Lumniar proposes another solution: a low-cost lidar platform. The platform consists of hardware and software. Luminar’s new Iris system will be available in two versions. The first enables full hands-free autonomy, and should go on sale for under $1,000. The other will only enable some automated functions, such as automatic emergency steering and braking. Because of its limited autonomy it will be available for less than $500.

Changing future

The statement of Musk and the launch of Luminar’s Iris system are not the only movements in the lidar-market. Considering its high costs, other manufacturers and suppliers as well have begun focusing on deploying more ADAS features, and various investments and acquisitions are on their way, such as the recent acquisition of the Montana-based lidar startup Blackmore by Aurora, a Silicon Valley self-driving startup backed by Amazon and Hyundai Motor Co.

Authored by: Fien Van den steen