September 16, 2015

Self-driving cars will change the world at least as much as their older cousins did. But the technology needed for them to “see” the world around them has so far been crazy expensive.

Now Pioneer is making waves with old technology.

Andrew Hard wrote for Digital Trends:

Pioneer is launching manufacturing trials of a new LIDAR (light detection and ranging) system that could help autonomous vehicles scan the world around them, and the company is leaning on its decades of experience with laserdiscs to develop it. For our younger readers, laserdiscs are like CDs, but bigger.

Driverless vehicles like the Google car already use LIDAR tech to “see,” but the units are very expensive. In fact, the roof-mounted sensors can cost as much as the cars themselves, ranging in price from about $25,000 to over $70,000. Pioneer’s contribution, however, is expected to be much cheaper. By basing its products on the optical pickups used to scan laserdiscs, Pioneer hopes it can bring to cost down to around $85 by 2025, reports Nikkei.

Pioneer hopes to begin evaluating the system next year and expects to have a commercial product by 2017. By 2018, the company hopes to be competing with Google.