Bosch has become the first company to create a production-ready long-range lidar system, a development that has the potential to speed up the arrival of autonomous driving.

Set to be demonstrated at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the lidar covers both short and long ranges and is intended to be combined with existing radar and camera technology, “complementing each other perfectly and delivering reliable information in every driving situation”.

Lidar stands for ‘light detection and ranging’. Such systems use light sensors to generate a three-dimensional view of the road, improving the ability of autonomous cars to perceive traffic and other obstacles.

By emitting laser pulses and then capturing and analysing the light that is scattered back, the sensors calculate the distance between themselves and other objects, including not only other vehicles but also smaller obstructions such as rocks on the road.

A big advantage of lidar is that it can detect narrow objects such as bikes, which radar can miss, and isn’t susceptible to strong light as cameras are. This, claims Bosch, makes it the ideal accompaniment to the other systems.

Bosch board member Harald Kröger said: “By filling the sensor gap, Bosch is making automated driving a viable possibility in the first place.

“We want to make automated driving safe, convenient and fascinating. In this way, we will be making a decisive contribution to the mobility of the future.” 

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