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Sony aims to transform AV lidar market
- January 23, 2020
Sony is aiming to develop a solid-state lidar that could transform the cost, integration and reliability of lidars used in autonomous vehicles. While a number of companies are aiming to develop similar solid-state lidar technology, Sony has a number of strengths that could make it the leading vendor of solid state lidar technology.
As part of its move to develop market ready solid-state lidar devices, Sony will embark on its own self driving car test programme later this year. The Japanese electronics group is working with Bosch, Continental and other firms to develop test vehicles. The aim of the programme is not to bring a self driving car to market, but to road-test sensing and lidar technology.
Current conventional lidar systems are typically bulky and fragile. They can be affected by road conditions and some weather conditions. They are also expensive, driving up the cost of autonomous vehicle development and potentially limiting future sales.
Sony hopes to develop solid state lidar devices that could be far more affordable than conventional lidar systems. They would be lower energy, more resistant to vibrations and adverse weather conditions, and potentially easier to integrate into other autonomous car technology system packages. For example, solid state lidar could form a component in future packages that might include AI, vision recognition processing, GPS and mapping within a single enclosure.
Sony has a dominant position in the smartphone sensor market. It is now aiming to achieve a similar position in the market for automotive sensors.
Analysts say that Sony has an advantage over start-ups attempting to develop solid state lidar, because the Japanese company already has extensive experience in developing sensors, has a large technology base, and could rapidly scale up production to manufacture at lower cost to rivals, as well as integrate lidar into system packages.