Bosch Pours Scorn on LiDAR-Less Driverless Tech

Bosch has poured scorn on autonomous driving systems that do not feature what it sees as essential LiDAR senors.

Its stance flies in the face of carmakers such as Tesla that rely on Autopilot systems that employ only cameras and radar sensors. The German automotive supplier giant insists autonomous technology can only achieve the robust reliability it needs for mass adoption with the inclusion of all three of the current sensor technologies available.

In a statement, Bosch said: “Before safe automated driving can become a reality, a third sensor principle is needed in addition to camera and radar.” To this end it is currently developing market-ready LiDAR sensors to join arrays with camera and radar sensors.

It says this laser-based distance measurement technology is indispensable for driving functions at SAE Levels 3 to 5 adding it new sensor will cover both long and close ranges on highways and in the city. Bosch also claims its economies of scale will reduce the price for the technology and render it suitable for the mass market.

The company’s own experiments has shown that all three sensors are essential in many real-life road situations. It said: “For example, if a motorcycle approaches an automated vehicle at high speed at a junction, LiDAR is needed in addition to camera and radar to ensure the reliable sensing of the two-wheeler. In this instance, radar can struggle to detect the bike’s narrow silhouette and plastic fairings. Moreover, a camera can always be dazzled by harsh light falling on it.”

LiDAR sensors emit laser pulses and captures the laser light that is scattered back. The system then calculates distances based on the measured time it takes for the light to bounce back. It offers high resolution with a long range and a wide field of vision. As a result, it can reliably detect even non-metallic objects at a great distance, such as rocks on the road. This means there is plenty of time to initiate driving maneuvers such as braking or swerving.

Bosch management board member Harald Kroeger, said: “By filling the sensor gap, Bosch is making automated driving a viable possibility in the first place. We want to make automated driving safe, convenient, and fascinating. In this way, we will be making a decisive contribution to the mobility of the future.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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