Apple quietly seeks LIDAR sensors for self-driving car: Report

By Digit NewsDesk | Updated 18 Apr 2019
Apple quietly seeks LIDAR sensors for self-driving car: Report
  • Apple is currently seeking vendors for LIDAR sensors, which it's said to use on its self-driving car.
  • It is also considering making its own LIDAR sensors, reports Reuters.

It appears Apple’s dream to build an autonomous electric car—or Project Titan, as it has been called by many—hasn’t gone up in the air after all. According to a recent report by Reuters, Apple has been talking with at least four companies in a bid to source LIDAR sensors for its self-driving electric car. While evaluating the technology behind their solutions, Apple has been working on its own LIDAR system. The LIDAR unit in question is expected to provide a three-dimensional view of the road ahead.

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According to Reuters’ source, which consists of three people who are familiar with the matter, Apple is looking for LIDAR units that are smaller, cheaper, and more easily produced in large quantities than current technology. The Cupertino-based company is reportedly setting the bar pretty high and is demanding a solution with “revolutionary design”. The sources declined to name the companies that were approached by Apple for the sensors.

The current LIDAR systems, which include the units from Velodyne Lidar, Inc. mounted on the roof of Apple’s test cars, use pulses of laser light to render precise images of the environment around the car. Sadly, the units run up to $100,000 (Rs 70 lakh) in cost and employ mechanical parts to sweep the laser sensor across the road. Apple believes this makes them bulky and prone to failure.

According to Reuters and its unnamed sources, Apple’s inclination towards a cheaper set of LIDAR sensors gives it control over the “perception stack” of sensors and software required to drive an autonomous car. “Bringing a passenger car to the market is really, really hard, and there’s no reason right now they need to jump into it,” commented one of Reuters’ sources. Whether it’s now or in the future, Apple will go up against the likes of Tesla and Waymo in its endeavour to make a self-navigating electric car.

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