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Nissan Unveils Updated Self-driving Technology, Still Shuns Lidar Tech

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Nissan Motor Co Ltd remains cold on lidar technology or light-based sensors as it insists the brand would stick to using radar sensors and cameras for its self-driving technology. This, after Tesla Inc’s Elon Musk also called lidar tech “a fool’s errand” just a month prior.

The Japanese automaker is targeting to have its self-driving models out on the streets by 2020 but continues to avoid lidar, a relatively new technology for vehicles, saying it’s “expensive and unnecessary”.

Lidar technology uses light-based sensors that fire approximately 1 million laser pulses per second, collecting measurements that are analyzed and processed into 3D models and maps. It is currently being used by companies such as General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co, and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo.

According to Tetsu Iijima, Nissan’s general manager of advanced technology development for automated driving, lidar does not have capabilities that would exceed those of the latest technology in radar and cameras.

“It would be fantastic if lidar technology was at the level that we could use it in our systems, but it’s not. There’s an imbalance between its cost and its capabilities,” he says.

Nissan plans to add its self-driving technology to more of its affordable models to try to boost sales.

Nissan’s newest self-driving technology allows hands-free driving in single lanes on highways with predefined routes.

The technology uses radar and sonar sensors as well as cameras to compile data from three-dimensional mapping, enabling cars to “see” their surroundings. It is set to be released in Japan later this year.

Nissan also confirmed that it has developed a “tri-cam” that focuses on three points to the front and sides of the vehicle in order to capture a wide area of view. This is on top of the automaker’s sonar, side radar, and around-view monitoring cameras.

The brand aims to add its self-driving technology to more of its affordable cars in an attempt to boost sales and recover from a profit slump after it was said to have hit “rock bottom” due to the financial scandal involving Nissan’s ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

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