Auto Lidar: Optical Choices And Challenges

Lidar, particularly for the autonomous-vehicle revolution, is one of the hottest of hot topics today in optics and photonics. But what kind of lidar? The technology’s deceptively simple five-letter name packs in a complex array of choices, from spinning car-top sensors to tiny solid-state lidar scanners largely still on the drawing boards.

In an invited talk at a session on optical solutions for autonomous driving at CLEO 2019 in San Jose, Calif., USA, Jake Li—the business development manager for automotive lidar with the Japan-based photonics component supplier Hamamatsu—walked the audience through the optical concepts and challenges bubbling beneath the surface in lidar for self-driving cars. The picture that he sketched out was very much one of a technology in flux, with the winners and losers for each technology component unlikely to emerge for some time.

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