While current ADAS systems provide Levels 0 through 2 autonomy, with capabilities such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning systems, blind spot detection, and alerts for drowsy drivers, many companies are seeking to achieve higher levels of autonomy that minimize the need for driver oversight. Today’s systems primarily use radar or cameras that perceive surroundings to improve navigation, though each has inherent limitations: radar can perceive objects in ranges of up to 300 meters but cannot distinguish between pedestrian positions (e.g., crossing a road versus walking on a sidewalk) or various modes of transportation (e.g., motorcycles, trucks, buses, bikes, or commercial vehicles); although camera systems rectify this issue, rain, snow, and clouds can reduce their range from 200 meters to less than 50 meters.
Manufacturers are continuing their pursuit of the best sensor combination for their automated driving programs; offering only a camera, radar, and a few ultrasonic sensors is no longer sufficient. The recent introduction of the far superior light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors is another step toward highly intelligent autonomous or self-driving cars in which driver input becomes secondary to the vehicle’s perception of the road ahead.
Although LIDAR has better performance ratings than other ADAS sensors, it is expensive. We note that smaller and more affordable LiDAR sensors are needed in this growing market. Together with camera and radar, LiDAR will be a core technology in providing 360-degree view to enhance safety.
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