Self-driving vehicles may take a long time to hit the road in large numbers. The sensors driving much of their progress, however, are starting to go mainstream.
Lidar technology is trickling into human-driven vehicles in some cases. In others, it's finding scale in different industries.
The latest example of lidar for human-driven vehicles came earlier this week when Volvo unveiled its EX90, which contains the first fruits of its five-year collaboration with lidar provider Luminar. A standard front-facing lidar unit will underpin driver-assist features in the crossover.
With distinctive shapes resembling spinning chicken buckets or hockey pucks, lidar units once symbolized self-driving ambitions. Volvo's designers fashioned a far more subtle integration of Luminar's Iris lidar unit into the EX90's roofline.
It signals a shift into a new era — just not the one initially expected. But waiting for self-driving vehicles to materialize wasn't just the wrong business case for lidar providers, it was akin to "asking the wrong question," said Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell, on hand for the EX90's reveal in Stockholm.