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Intel’s self-driving car unit plans to use its own radar tech by 2025

The head of Intel Corp’s self-driving car subsidiary said on Tuesday the company aims to shift toward using its own radar-based technology and use a single lidar sensor for every vehicle by 2025 in a bid to reduce the cost of autonomous driving.

Mobileye has adopted a different strategy from many of its self-driving car competitors, with an existing camera-based system that helps cars with adaptive cruise control and lane change assistance. Those systems are on the road today and are gathering information to help Mobileye map the roads in new cities.

For more advanced systems, the company prepares to include both radar sensors, which use radio waves to detect the distance from objects, and lidar, a laser-based system that helps self-driving vehicles gain a three-dimensional view of the road. For a planned fleet of so-called robotaxis, which are commercial vehicles meant to ferry around passengers, the company is tapping sensors from Luminar Technologies.

In a presentation, a the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Chief Executive Amnon Shashua said that Mobileye’s robotaxis will use multiple Luminar units to gain 360-degree lidar, radar, and camera coverage all across the vehicle. The robotaxis presenting in at least eight cities starting by 2022 will each have four Luminar units, Shashua said in a subsequent question and answer session.

But Mobileye is also developing its own lidar sensor that it prepares to start using in 2025 for cars aimed at costumers.

That 2025 consumer system will include a single lidar unit facing the front of the vehicle, while cameras and a new radar-based system that Mobileye is developing as well will cover the whole vehicle. Shashua said Mobileye is developing new ways to process radar data with software that will make radar stronger. Radar sensors are cheaper compared to lidar but give a less detailed image.

“The difference between radars and lidars in terms of cost is an order of magnitude,” he said. “No matter what people tell you about how to decrease the cost of lidar, radar is ten times lower. We are building lidars, so I know exactly the cost of the lidars.”

In a statement, Mobileye said it prepares to keep using Luminar lidars “as much as possible” after the introduction of its own lidar sensors. Mobileye plans to offer its self-driving technology to automakers as separate parts, meaning that automakers could select a Mobileye system but use Luminar sensors for the lidar units.

Luminar have not commented yet.

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