The MEMS lidar can scan up to 5,000 data points from a scene every second, and has a range of 250 meters, says Ralf Bornefeld, Infineon’s head of automotive sense and control. Despite its moving mirror, he thinks it should prove as robust and reliable as any other silicon chip. In mass production and attached to, say, a windscreen, the MEMS lidar is expected to cost a carmaker less than $250. These tiny lidars would have other applications, too—in robots and drones, for example.
Many engineers, Mr Bornefeld included, reckon autonomous cars of the future will use multiple miniature lidars, radars, ultrasonic sensors and digital cameras. Each system of sensors has advantages and disadvantages, he says. Combining them will provide a “safety cocoon” around an autonomous vehicle.