The self-driving cars of the future are coming, but to get here a little bit quicker, they may use technology straight out of the 1980s.
Pioneer is launching manufacturing trials of a new LIDAR (light detection and ranging) system that could help autonomous vehicles scan the world around them, and the company is leaning on its decades of experience with laserdiscs to develop it.
You remember the LaserDisc, don’t you? (If you don’t, dial back to this 1998 piece.)
Driverless vehicles like the Google car already use LIDAR tech to “see,” but the units are very expensive. In fact, the roof-mounted sensors can cost as much as the cars themselves, ranging in price from about $25,000 to over $70,000. Pioneer’s contribution, however, is expected to be much cheaper. By basing its products on the optical pickups used to scan laserdiscs, Pioneer hopes it can bring to cost down to around $85 by 2025, reports Nikkei.
My current LaserDisc player has held up nicely for the last, um, 25 years. (It was around $500 new, or about a third less than the first one I bought in 1982.) The format does have one disadvantage, as pointed out by the submitter of this Fark link: “Not mentioned is if passengers will be required to flip the car halfway to their destination.”