First created to usher in a fully autonomous era of driving, lidar technology is now a cornerstone of the emerging driver-assist market. And lidar companies are drawing the attention of customers — and perhaps equally importantly, investors — as they race to make their systems better and less expensive.
Old stalwarts and newcomers to the field alike are benefiting from the industry's embrace of lidar sensors for driver-assist systems. The near-term plans for lidar to reach mass production for assist systems should give lidar companies the revenue they need while waiting for the self-driving era that's still years in the future.
"We're seeing a lot of these lidars getting down into designs intended for volume production, where they can get a price point at less than $500 per unit in the next few years," said Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Guidehouse Insights. "We're seeing those being adopted in sub- robotaxi applications."
In March, Honda added its Sensing Elite driver-assist system as an optional package for certain Legend EX hybrid sedans sold only in Japan. It's a limited rollout, but the system, which contains lidar, is one of the world's first offerings of Level 3 automation.
Next year, Volvo will begin producing vehicles equipped with Luminar's lidar and software. And Toyota will soon ship 2022 model Lexus LS 500h vehicles containing its new Teammate system that uses lidar.