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This Lidar Is So Cheap It Could Make Self-Driving a Reality

Luminar says its new lidar sensor will sell for as little as $500, compared with $75,000 for the industry leader.

Every technology has its weakness. Maybe it’s too big or slow or not versatile. Critics of lidar, Tesla’s Elon Musk being, perhaps, the loudest among them, focus on the cost that the laser-based system adds to a self-driving vehicle. The spinning, rooftop lidar produced by industry leader Velodyne runs about $75,000. That’s enough to trouble the companies developing robotaxis, the fully autonomous vehicles that hope to amortize their costs by ferrying passengers. For personally owned vehicles, anything near that cost is a nonstarter.

Alex Davies covers autonomous vehicles and other transportation machines for WIRED.

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