Would it be possible for autonomous cars to use echolocation like a bat in order to scan their surroundings?
Sending out sound waves and listening for their echo is a great way to detect obstacles in water – submarines can detect objects many kilometres away. But sound doesn’t travel nearly so well in air. Bats can only detect objects up to 20 metres away, falling to around 2 metres in poor conditions. Light is less affected by atmospheric conditions, which is why self-driving cars use LIDAR (‘light detection and ranging’), bouncing infrared laser light off objects in order to detect them.
LIDAR creates a ‘map’ of a driverless car’s surroundings