The road to self-driving cars remains a long one

selfIf carmakers are to be believed, autonomous cars are right around the corner. Some like Nissan and Merced

es-Benz have in fact been so bold as to put a 2020 debut date on their first self-driving models.

Carmakers tell us, however, that the arrival of autonomous, self-driving cars depends on the ability to use sensors already in place on some production cars. These sensors, including radar, and dual forward-facing cameras, currently used for accident mitigation and avoidance along with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), are intended to be used as the robot driver’s eyes.

Why must automakers give double duty to the sensors adorning the front-end of their latest models? That’s because the Velodyne Lidar Inc. unit atop self-driving cars like Google’s cost $70,000 apiece, which makes that technology financially unrealistic. And there is – rightfully – the expectation that few customers want cars with a metal cylinder on a mast on the roof, as the device requires.  More