The laser sensor that most tech and car companies see as an essential component for self-driving cars, isn’t something that Tesla CEO, Elon Musk is very fond of. Musk rekindled his dislike of LiDAR in a recent earnings call and defended Tesla’s strategy of achieving “full autonomy” by using only cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors.
LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, has become a common fixture on self-driving cars operated by companies like GM and Alphabet’s Waymo. But Musk has long argued that LIDAR is too expensive and too bulky for Tesla’s vehicles.
It’s quite baffling from how other self-driving vehicle operators view LIDAR. Waymo and Uber are battling it out in federal court right now over Waymo’s belief that Uber stole its LIDAR designs to get ahead in the autonomous car race. “Laser is the sauce,” former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick wrote on a whiteboard in 2016, a photo of which was submitted as evidence earlier this week. But not for Tesla.
Musk said Tesla is trying to tackle a much bigger problem: passive optical recognition. This is why Tesla is banking on cameras as the key hardware component in the long term to autonomous vehicle development. With their ever-increasing pixel resolution and the low-price point, camera sensors are seen as indispensable for advanced driver assistance systems and fully autonomous systems.