Lidar Technology Drives Next Generation of Autonomous Cars

Self-driving cars keep rolling closer to the mainstream.

For example, Ford plans to launch an autonomous vehicle by 2021, and is investing $1 billion in the startup Argo AI to make it happen, according to Marketplace Tech.

As a supplier of parts to companies developing self-driving cars, we’re interested in advances in this growing segment within the larger automotive industry.

Roof-mounted optical systems are used for self-driving cars and for advanced driver assistance systems. Photo: Wall Street Journal

One of those advances is lidar, a laser-based sensing technology, which is emerging as central to the development of the next generation of self-driving cars.

The optical technology’s name—lidar—stands for “light detection and ranging.” As recently explained, lidar is analogous to radar but relies on infrared light instead of radio waves.

Lidar technology units are showing up mounted on the roofs of both experimental self-driving cars being developed by Google and others, and on cars with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which are being tested by Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and other OEMs. Continue reading

Automotive Tech Takes the Wheel at CES 2017


Take a stroll through CES 2017 and you might think you accidentally entered an auto show. As cars become venues for the latest tech, they’ve turned into centerpieces at the world’s largest consumer electronics showcase.

This year, auto manufacturers captivated attendees with demos of self-driving cars, high-performance electric vehicles, and even holographic dashboard displays. Here’s what caught our attention at the show.

The HoloActive Touch system uses reflections to produce a holographic interface.

BMW Makes Holographic Displays a Reality
Seeing new tech from BMW has become somewhat of a tradition at CES. This year was no different. Attendees were introduced to the HoloActive Touch system. It’s a free-floating, holographic display not unlike something you’d find in a “Star Wars” film. The user interface enables drivers to control the car’s functions without making physical contact with the vehicle.

A camera installed in the dashboard detects users’ movements and registers the position of their fingertips. When a fingertip makes contact with the virtual surface, a pulse is emitted and the function is activated. BMW has yet to announce a release date for the new dashboard concept, but its current gesture-controlled system will do for now. Continue reading