LiDAR ‘critical’ for highly automated vehicles, but cost remains a challenge

Freddie Holmes speaks to ZF’s Aine Denari about the benefits that LiDAR can bring to autonomous vehicles

Since the start of modern autonomous vehicle (AV) development, LiDAR technology has been at the core.

Special report: Will LiDAR guide us to a driverless future?

These sensors send out pulses of light to capture the reflection of objects in the local environment. By judging the speed of light returned, the sensor can tell exactly how close these objects are. It is similar in some respect to a hand-held laser finder, but the difference with LiDAR is that a large number of lasers and detectors perform this on a full 360-degree scale. Millions of data points are gathered each second, and ultimately create a picture of the vehicle’s surrounding environment.

Aine Denari is Senior Vice President for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Electronics at ZF. Having handled the integration of TRW following a mammoth US$11.7bn merger back in 2015, Denari is now part of the team that is driving ZF’s innovation in AV perception sensors. As a technology agnostic supplier, ZF’s task is simply to develop solutions that are best for its customers, and is therefore well placed to address the possible benefits and drawbacks of the technology.

Speaking to Automotive World, Denari explained that LiDAR will be part of a wider suite of sensors that will support higher levels of automation— a view that is held by most in the industry….