Lidar is a special sensing technology that can detect objects from far away and is much better than cameras and radar. This means it helps driver-assist systems to improve and self-driving cars depend on it. General Motors has its own lidar system that they are working on.
General Motors (GM) recently submitted a document containing ideas for how to make current lidar sensors more powerful. This document, called “Lidar Vision Systems”, was shared with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on February 28th, although it was first written in December of 2019.
Lidar is a tool that sends out light waves from a sensor, and the light reflects back off nearby objects. The pattern of the scattered or returned light helps the device “see” distance and shape of the object. In vehicle engineering, lidar is often combined with camera and radar to help self-driving cars or driver aids recognize their surroundings easier.
GM said that their lidar units might have difficulty seeing objects far away from the car. To fix this, they are adding special lenses around the sensor which are angled to grab more light.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk thinks lidar (a type of sensor used to detect obstacles) is a waste of money, but other car companies have already started adding it to their cars. The Xpeng P5 electric sedan was said to be the first car with built-in lidar when it was released in 2021. It has two lidar sensors on either side of the front, which use light waves to detect any possible risks that may come up.
Mercedez-Benz and Volvo are investing in a Silicon Valley company called Luminar that makes lidar sensors. These lidar sensors will be installed on the roofs of Volvos, starting with the electric SUV EX90 that will be available to buy early next year. GM also plans to add lidar sensors on its cars, beginning with the Cadillac Celestiq. The lidar for this car will come from a different supplier called Cepton.