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LiDAR gaining penetration in autonomous vehicles, but hurdles remain, says Digitimes Research
Evan Chen, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei

Many first-tier international automotive components makers have been keen on collaborating with LiDAR developers trying to increase economies of scale for LiDAR devices, but high unit prices and slow revisions of laws governing autonomous driving remain major obstacles, according to Digitimes Research.

France-based automotive components supplier Valeo has spent seven years helping Germany's automotive LiDAR sensor specialist Ibeo kick off mass production of such sensors for sedans. Korea's auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis and Sweden's CarTech specialist Veoneer have joined forces to assist US-based Velodyne in expanding volume production. Germany's Continental Group and Kapan's Koito will also integrate LiDAR devices with their existing automotive components.

On another front, automakers including General Motors, Ford, Hyundai and Volkswagen are planning to roll out robotaxi cars (with Level 4-5 autonomous driving) featuring LiDAR devices in 2020-2022, while Honda, Lexus, BMW and Volvo are also developing Level 3 autonomous vehicles with LiDAR. This indicates LiDAR will become a standard spec for Level 3 and above autonomous vehicles, up from the existing Level 2 ones, Digitimes Research notes.

Nevertheless, Audi is mulling cancelling its Level 3 vehicles as the regulations governing autonomous vehicles have yet to be formulated or revised in many countries. Japan has allowed Level 3 autonomous cars to run on roads in the country starting April 2020, and the US, China and European Union have not readied their relevant regulations in this regard.

This, coupled with the unit prices for LiDAR devices having yet to fall under US$200 as expected, will hinder such devices from being massively applied to autonomous vehicles and affect their volume shipments, Digitimes Research comments.

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