This lidar/camera hybrid could be a powerful addition to driverless cars

At first glance, using a $12,000 lidar sensor to capture low-resolution black-and-white snapshots might seem pointless. After all, virtually all self-driving cars being tested today are already festooned with conventional cameras capable of capturing much higher-resolution images—in color. But while these images aren’t going to win any photography awards, Pacala argues that they could have significant value.
Self-driving cars need to merge data from different sensors into a single unified model of the vehicle’s surroundings. This isn’t easy. Cameras and lidars operate at different resolutions and frame rates. They’re also necessarily mounted in different positions on the car, which means they capture a scene from slightly different angles. Sensors also get jostled and require periodic recalibration.