Luminar’s cheap LiDAR could be a big boost for autonomous vehicles

LiDAR (laser pulse-based radar) is an essential component of autonomous driving, as it’s what vehicles use to detect obstacles like other cars or pedestrians in order to navigate around them. But LiDAR systems aren’t cheap. Now, autonomous vehicle sensor and software company Luminar has announced a new platform which will be a lower-priced alternative to current LiDAR systems.

Luminar’s Iris LiDAR systems will cost less than $1,000 per unit for production vehicles or $500 for a limited version, according to TechCrunch. This is a massive saving from other LiDAR systems on the market today, which run up to $75,000 for a top of the line unit from developer Velodyne. However, Alphabet subsidiary Waymo did announce earlier this year that it would sell its own LiDARs for a more affordable price of $7,500.