Only the parallel use of three sensor principles – camera, radar and also lidar – ensures that automated driving is as safe as possible on the road. Bosch analyses have confirmed this: the company’s developers examined all applications of automated driving functions – from highway assistance to fully automated driving in the city. If, for example, a motorcycle approaches an automated vehicle at an intersection at high speed, a lidar is needed in addition to a camera and radar to ensure reliable detection of the two-wheeler. This is because a narrow silhouette and plastic fairings are difficult for a radar to detect in this case. Moreover, a camera can always be blinded by unfavourable light incidence. This shows that when radar, camera and lidar are used in a trio, they complement each other perfectly and provide reliable information in every driving situation. Bosch has been manufacturing intelligent cameras and radar systems for years, but the company took a long time to prepare for its entry into lidar technology. For years, the automotive supplier had been making only vague allusions to the press about the “imminent” introduction of a lidar sensor.
Compared to radar, the lidar principle has some similarities, but also advantages. Lidar offers a very high resolution at a long range and a large lateral viewing angle. For example, laser-based distance meters reliably detect non-metallic obstacles at long distances – for example stones on the road. Driving maneuvers such as braking or taking evasive action can be initiated in good time.
At the same time, the use of a lidar in a vehicle places high demands on its components such as detector and laser source – especially in terms of temperature resistance and reliability over the entire life of the vehicle. Since Bosch can draw on its sensor and system know-how in the radar and camera sector for its lidar development, all three sensor technologies can be optimally entangled with each other. The company promises that the long-range lidar can be efficiently integrated into a wide range of vehicle types.
The company also expects that economies of scale will soon enable it to offer mass-market lidar sensors at a correspondingly low price. However, late entrants will have to hurry up with their development: In the CES environment, several lidar sensors were presented at prices that could put considerable pressure on the market structure. The Chinese manufacturer RoboSense, for example, announced a complete lidar sensor platform including suitable software for less than 2000 dollars. And the American lidar top dog Velodyne even plans to launch a sensor at a price of 100 dollars by the middle of the year.