Bosch has announced that a new long-range lidar (light detection and ranging) sensor is now production-ready. The sensor complements Bosch’s camera and radar sensors, all three of which are suitable for automotive use. What’s interesting about the lidar sensor is that the firm has managed to reduce the price which in turn makes self-driving vehicles more affordable for consumers.
According to Bosch, lidar technology is “indispensable” for bringing SAE level 3 to 5 vehicles to the market. In terms of the levels of driving automation, level 3 allows drivers to safely take their eyes off the road because the vehicle will handle things like emergency braking, however, the driver must still be ready to respond when told to by the vehicle. Level 4 cars can operate independently in a geofenced area and can handle limited situations without the driver outside the geofence. Level 5 vehicles require zero human intervention. For comparison to existing vehicles, Tesla’s Autopilot is considered level 2 on the SAE scale.
Commenting on today’s news, Bosch management board member, Harald Kroeger, said:
“By filling the sensor gap, Bosch is making automated driving a viable possibility in the first place. We want to make automated driving safe, convenient, and fascinating. In this way, we will be making a decisive contribution to the mobility of the future.”
Bosch didn’t provide a timeline, pricing, or the technical details for its new lidar sensor, nor whether there were any customers lined up to use the sensor yet. In the past, Tesla head, Elon Musk, has said that lidar technology was too expensive but with today’s news this could change.