New cars with camera systems attached to the windshield have become commonplace. Just about every automotive brand now has a front-camera-enabled ADAS system, optional or even standard on their vehicles.
New cars with lidar systems are virtually non-existent.
There are several reasons for this, starting with cost: cameras are cheaper than lasers, all the more so because they are widely mass-produced for applications beyond automotive. Camera data is also easier for engineers to work with than lidar data, and it’s probably more helpful than lidar data.
That said, lidar data is still very helpful, particularly as a complement to camera data.
Velodyne’s H800 lidar unit, which will go into production in 2021, is designed for ADAS, and looks that way. The form factor itself appears designed to plug into a windshield.
At $500, the price point is still high. I assume that $500 becomes more like $5000 by the time the price of the whole lidar-equipped system gets sold to a car buyer. But even a $500 unit / $5000 system is in the realm of feasibility for consumers, whereas a bottom-of-the-line VLP-16 that retailed for $4,000 probably wasn’t realistic.
In an ADAS system, these sensors should facilitate features like automatic lane-switching, route adjustments, and even fleet mapping, which could lead to ever-greater autonomy.
Lasers, coming to a car near you in 2021.